Today, the Commissioners Court voted 3-2 to pay several special prosecutor invoices and 4-1 to pay a separate invoice for an attorney to special prosecutors.
You know that the amounts being paid to the special prosecutors gall me. I have been very clear about that.
However, the law is very clear. Judges have absolute discretion on the amounts to be paid, unless the fees are “so arbitrary, unreasonable, and capricious as to amount to an abuse of discretion.”
If the Commissioners Court wants to challenge the fees as “arbitrary, unreasonable, and capricious”, then we would do so in a court of law, not by voting against paying the invoices determined to be reasonable by the presiding judge. Absent our challenge in a court of law, the fees are “carrying with them a presumption of necessity and reasonableness.” Period.
I quote the entire passage from Texas Attorney General’s Opinion No. JM-803, “This office has, on several occasions, considered the application of article 26.05. (references omitted) The law delegates to the judge in the case the power to decide what fee is reasonable, so long as the fee finally set equals at least the statutory minimum and otherwise complies with the statutes. (references omitted) Both the courts and this office consistently have viewed determinations by judges about fees as “carrying with them a presumption of necessity and reasonableness.” (references omitted) In disputes about the amount of compensation due, the burden rests with a commissioners court resisting payment to show that a judicial determination of a “reasonable” fee in a particular case is so arbitrary, unreasonable, and capricious as to amount to an abuse of discretion. (reference omitted).”
Today, the Commissioners upheld the rule of law, in spite of our personal objections to the fee amounts.
You can hear the open meetings comments on the invoices at this link. We also spent 1 hour and twenty minutes in executive session with our attorney before these open meeting comments.
Note: This post has been corrected to reflect the 4-1 vote (not 5-0, as written in a previous version) on paying the invoice for an attorney to special prosecutors.