Thursday, February 18, 2016
Texas Lt. Gov. Seeks To Dispute Judicial Conduct Commission On Chaplaincy Program
In a press release yesterday, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced that he has requested a formal opinion from state attorney general Ken Paxton on the constitutionality of a volunteer Justice Court Chaplaincy Program created by Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack. (Full text of request for AG Opinion and Brief in Support.) Mack, who is also the County Coroner, created the chaplaincy program to help grieving family, friends and witnesses at death scenes to which the coroner is called. To recognize these volunteer chaplains, Mack also invites them to give a brief prayer to open his justice of the peace court proceedings. A complaint was filed against Mack with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The Complaint was eventually dismissed, but the Commission urged Mack to end the chaplaincy program and to modify the opening prayer ceremony. Patrick hopes that an Attorney General's Opinion will clarify that the programs are constitutionally permissible.