March 1959

COUNTY JUDGE IN PRIVATE PRACTICE—EMPLOYMENT—Art. 319 (Rev.Civ.Stat.) and Arts. 402 and 403 (Penal Code) regulate the private practice of a County Judge before other courts. No Canon of Ethics is specifically applicable, and it is not the duty of the committee to interpret statutes. However, a County Judge apparently may not transfer to the County Court-at-Law probate matters then pending before the County Court and continue to act as attorney in the probate matters.

Art. 319, Civil Statutes; Arts. 403, 403, Penal Code.


1. May a County Judge practice in the County Court-at-Law, both courts being in the same county? If so, may he try cases that he had pending on the docket before his appointment to County Judge?

2. May the County Judge transfer to the County Court-at-Law any probate matters that he has pending, and continue to be the attorney in the probate matters?


Article 319 of the Revised Civil Statutes of Texas and Articles 402 and 403 of the Penal Code are applicable to the question where a County Judge may practice law. The inquiry herein contained calls for an interpretation of these statutes and cannot be answered by interpretation of the Canons of Ethics since none specifically applies. (8-0.)

It is not the duty of the committee to interpret statutes. However, attention is invited to Opinion No. 6946 (1945) of the Attorney General of Texas, wherein the ruling was made that a County Judge has authority to practice law in any county or justice court over which he presides has either original or appellate jurisdiction over the matters in question, the County Judge may not handle them in the County Court-at-Law. Since the probate matters are now pending in the County Court, that court apparently has original jurisdiction as to those matters and the County Judge seemingly cannot handle them, regardless of transfer to the County Court-at-Law.

As related to other civil or criminal matters pending in the County Court-at-law, the inquiry cannot be answered in the abstract. As to some matters the County Court-at-Law is sometimes given concurrent jurisdiction with the County Court, and sometimes it is given exclusive jurisdiction. (Tex. Civ. App. 1932, error dism’d). For this purpose "concurrent" jurisdiction seemingly should be equated to "original" jurisdiction.

See also Opinions 13, 151, and 173. See generally Opinion 184.