Redacted records of­fered, re­jected

Sun­set

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Con­tin­ued from A

Ab­bott has weighed in. In an opin­ion is­sued last week, the state’s top lawyer sided with the ju­di­cial con­duct com­mis­sion, say­ing that strict con­fi­den­tial­ity rules writ­ten into the state con­sti­tu­tion did legally shield the in­ner work­ings of the agency re­spon­si­ble for dis­ci­plin­ing Texas judges, not only from the pub­lic, but also from in­ves­ti­ga­tors work­ing on elected law­mak­ers’ be­half.

“Pa­pers filed with the State Com­mis­sion on Ju­di­cial Con­duct, along with the Com­mis­sion’s pro­ceed­ings, are made con­fi­den­tial un­less the Leg­is­la­ture en­acts a law es­tab­lish­ing an ex­cep­tion to the con­sti­tu­tional con­fi­den­tial­ity re­quire­ment,” Ab­bott’s opin­ion said.

Sun­set of­fi­cials are leg­isla­tively charged with in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ef­fi­ciency of agen­cies ev­ery 12 years and had eval­u­ated the ju­di­cial com­mis­sion in 2000. The re­cent dis­pute be­tween the two agen­cies be­gan when Sun­set of­fi­cials asked to sit in on its meet­ings dur­ing which gov­er­nor-ap­pointed com­mis­sion­ers — six judges, two at­tor­neys and five pub­lic mem­bers — hear dis­ci­plinary cases against judges.

Ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of­fi­cials re­sponded that “its meet­ings are closed to ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the Sun­set Com­mis­sion and its staff,” ac­cord­ing to the Sun­set agency’s sub­se­quent report.

When Sun­set au­di­tors next re­quested per­mis­sion to view me­moran­dums about dis­ci­plinary rul­ings, they were again re­buffed. Such pa­pers are

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