Commissioners Court to Take Britton County Attorney Status

Paul Lilly
Shane Britton
Molly smith

Shane Britton will know more about his political future after Monday’s Brown County Commissioners Court meeting, where two items are on the agenda regarding Britton:

* Consideration and possible approval of the action to declare a special election for the post of county attorney.

* Consideration and possible action to appoint someone as county attorney until after the March primary. The commissioners meet at 9 a.m.

Britton, 55, has been a Brown County district attorney since 2001. Last week Britton announced he was running for Brown County judge in the Republican Party primary election in March. Britton’s announcement created a three-way race for the Brown County judge. In addition to Britton, the candidates are:

* Incumbent Paul Lilly, 52, who has served as a Brown County judge since 2019.

* Molly Smith, 44, who operates ranches and farms.

Britton’s announcement of his candidacy as a Brown County judge triggered what is known as “Resign to Run” under the Texas constitution. And that means it’s an automatic resignation for a county attorney and other elected officials who advertise their candidacies for a different position.

But the Texas Constitution also provides that “an elected public official continues to perform the duties of office (or ‘remain in office”) until his successor takes office, “says the Texas Association of Counties. (TAC) in a document titled “Short Answers to Common Questions The purpose of the sustaining provision is to” keep government running, “TAC said.

Britton said earlier by text that his announcement “served as an automatic resignation, but I remain in office until my successor takes office. The commissioners will call a special election for my job.”

According to Lilly, the commissioners’ tribunal should appoint a qualified person for the post of county attorney in place of Britton. Lilly said he would ask commissioners to appoint Terri Moore, who works in Britton’s office as deputy county attorney, to the office during Monday’s meeting. Lilly also said he knows a few other attorneys up for appointment. He refused to name them.

Lilly said he spoke to Caroline Griggs, head of government relations at the Texas attorney general’s office, to seek clarification on Britton’s status under “Resign to Run”.

“She said” you always try to follow the intention of the law, and the intention of the Resignation to run was that the chosen one resign immediately, but they keep this position because they are elected until that a new person be appointed, “said Lilly.

Lilly told Griggs he heard from Ward 1 commissioner Gary Worley that the commissioners were likely to leave Britton in power as a holdover.

“She said ‘it’s legal but it’s not what they wanted when they passed the law,” “Lilly said.

He said Griggs referred him to Keith Ingram, chief electoral officer in the office of the secretary of state for Texas. “So I spoke to Keith Ingram,” Lilly said. “I told him what was going on here and he said ‘no, keep the phone. He said you can only select a candidate when there is no one else qualified to be appointed for the job. . ‘”

Lilly said Ingram told her, “When our legislature created this statue, they always assumed the candidates would do the honorable and right thing. In her words, they never dreamed that anyone would try to stay. in power in the absence of anyone else who could do the job.

“He said they had never met a tribunal of commissioners who had not accepted the resignation and appointed someone new as the statute says he is supposed to. Is it technically illegal to leave it in there? No, it doesn’t. But that is of course, in my opinion, the unethical and dishonorable thing to do. The intention of resigning to carry out the law is very clear It is very clear so that you cannot use your current function as a stepping stone to move on to the next one.

“There is a thing called the smell test. You can do it but if it doesn’t smell good the public will see it. If it doesn’t pass the smell test then that means the public sees it clearly while technically it may be legal – and I don’t mean they won’t follow the spirit of the law. All I’m saying is that on the basis of a conversation with Commissioner Worley, I got the impression that they intended to leave Mr Britton in office.

Lilly said Ingram told him he had “never met a commissioners tribunal that would do something like this and he prayed that we weren’t the first, and I pray that we weren’t the first. first either “. If it was anyone else, we wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation, in my opinion. “

Worley countered that commissioners “don’t have to appoint someone immediately. He never mentions a timeline. An elected official who resigns, under the Texas constitution, remains in office until his successor qualifies. for the post. The Commissioners Tribunal is the only one who can make the appointment, not a county judge. “

“I’m all for Shane to serve until after the March primary just to keep continuity in the office, to keep things moving. I think Shane needs to serve as a bridle.”

Worley offered a timeline for events after Britton announced his candidacy:

* Monday, November 29 – The Commissioners’ Court calls a special election for the county attorney to be held around the time of the November 2022 general election.

* After November 29, candidates for county attorney will apply for the March primary ballot.

* Between November 29 and the March 2022 primary, Britton will remain county attorney.

* If no one shows up in the Democratic primary – once the primary votes are collected, the winner of the publican primary will be appointed county prosecutor effective April 1, 2022.

Police Station 2 Commissioner Joel Kelton said: “As far as what to do with Shane, there are several options. You can nominate someone to fill this position. You cannot take any action and stay in that position and collect his salary. “

Kelton said he was inclined to vote for Britton to remain a county attorney until the primary election.

“They’re already late over there,” Kelton said of the county attorney’s office. “If you take him out, you’re going to be even further shorthanded up there. My recommendation, from what I understand at this point – and I’m still learning about it – is probably to let him stay. in this position. It seems to me that the most sensible thing to do is not to leave this place because they need this help. ”

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