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I thought I'd give Brumley a break from my constant phone calls on civil issues and throw this one out there for others.

Abstract companies currently have copiers in the clerk's office. Space in the clerk's office is limitied and other abstract companies are wanting to put copiers in as well.

May the Clerk remove (or have the current abstarct companies remove their copiers) and prevent any abstract company from placing copiers in her office. If not, what is the authority for an abstract company to house copiers in the clerks office.

Posts: 70 | Location: Hunt County | Registered: February 27, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I believe this is the case the abstract companies will cite. 199 S.W.2d 269. There was an unsuccessful challenge to it in the 1980's in Tarrant and it ended badly for the government. A thorough research of this case will find a few AG opinions et cetera. Eek
Posts: 267 | Location: Mansfield, Texas | Registered: August 07, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This opinion concerns plat machines, and is (supposedly) limited to San Patricio County. That being said, it isn't a bad summary of AG opinions and cases on this issue. It refers to the case Ray mentions, but also to a newer one that allowed the clerk to make neutral rules governing the use of copy machines.

We have a similar problem; limited space in the clerk's office and - especially during early voting - limited electrical outlets. One abstract company has been here since Fido was a pup, and they don't want to share their machine with anyone else. I believe that we have to offer equal access. My answer to my clerk was that either the companies could "play nice" together on one machine, or the private machine could be removed. Especially since they have to suffer the inconvenience of the machine being in the jury room during voting, they play nice the rest of the time!

[This message was edited by Lisa Peterson on 04-03-06 at .]
Posts: 736 | Location: Sweetwater TX | Registered: January 30, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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One notion to keep in the quiver is the principle that "the commissioners' court is charged with the duty of providing a courthouse and has at least implied authority to regulate the use thereof within reasonable bounds." Dodson v. Marshall, 118 S.W.2d 621, 623 (Tex. Civ. App.--Waco 1938, writ dism'd). Indeed, there is general support for the idea that allocation of resources within the courthouse rests with the commissioners court, with other elected officials having some say over those resources once they are placed at their disposal. See, e.g., Matter of El Paso County Courhouse, 765 S.W.2d 876, 882 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1989, no writ) ("The resolution of the controversy [concerning whether the existing courthouse was inadequate and whether commissioners could sua sponte be ordered to build a new one] rests primarily within the discretionary realm of the commissioners' court."); Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. No. JM-1054 (1989), at 3 (citing Dodson as support for conclusion that commissioners court had authority to determine whether JP court would be located in courthouse or in sheriff's department facilities). Some analagous guidance for how the court may exercise that discretion can be seen in Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. No. JC-0119 (1999). There, the AG opined that the commissioners court could, in its discretion, allow the county attorney to use his courthouse office as the registered address for a pretrial diversion program if the court found that (1) the entity's use of the space would not interfere with the courthouse's official use; and that (2) locating the entity in the courthouse would be necessary to the convenience of county employees or to the members of the public who transact business in the courthouse. Id. at 3. Thus, should the fight degenerate into one in which every abstract company wants its own copier in the clerk's office, such that copiers would displace the normal users of the clerk's office space, I believe the commissioners court would have discretion to determine that, because of the complexities of weighing who could have a copier in the courhouse and who could not, all privately owned and operated copiers could be jettisoned. That possibility could be leveraged to encourage the competitors to reach some agreement on space sharing.
Posts: 1233 | Location: Amarillo, Texas, USA | Registered: March 15, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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