The Record Newspapers - Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Chance that Thibodeaux may stay on temporarily as judge


Last updated 10/28/2014 at Noon

There's a possibility that current Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux may stay in office a little longer than he anticipated.

Major Brint Carlton, Republican nominee for Orange County judge and assistant district attorney is currently stationed in Italy to assist in containing Ebola. Carlton doesn't face any opposition for the General Election in November. He's also a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

However, it's unknown if he will return to Orange County in time by January, 2015 to take his oath of office, according to Thibodeaux. If not, the past county judge could stay on in office, according to Texas law, if the incoming county judge is taking a long-term leave of absence. Thibodeaux added he doesn't have any immediate plans after January, 2015.

He explained the county judge must be elected and qualified before taking the oath of office in person and sign certain paperwork, according to the Texas Constitution and the Local Government Code. “He's (the county judge) is the signatory of the county,” Thibodeaux said. “The (commissioners') court will have to appoint a county judge.”

A county judge who is qualified and has taken the oath of office, he added.

Thibodeaux said Carlton must be present in person to vote on the commissioners' court. He cannot do a proxy vote via technology such as Skype or through the telephone.

Soldiers serving in that area are currently being monitored for 21 days.

In the Oct. 27, 2014 edition of USA Today, the commander of U.S. Army Africa is among a dozen soldiers who have been placed in isolation over Ebola concerns at a U.S. military base in Italy after wrapping up a mission to Liberia, the Pentagon said Monday.

The soldiers were isolated at the base in Vicenza over the weekend as a precaution although none have shown any symptoms of exposure to the virus that has killed thousands in West Africa, Army Col. Steven Warren said.

Warren said the soldiers, who were part of Operation United Assistance in West Africa, were being kept at a separate unit at the base for 21 days, the incubation period for Ebola. Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa, is among those being isolated.

Their isolation is not required by Pentagon guidelines, Warren said.

The Pentagon said Monday evening that the Army Chief of Staff had directed "a 21-day controlled monitoring period'' from Ebola assistance operations in West Africa.

Soldiers will be housed in a separate facility on their base, with no physical contact with family members, the Army said. They will be allowed to visit the gym and have access to TV and Internet, and medical checks will be conducted twice a day.

The Army said in a statement that the step was being taken "out of caution to ensure soldiers, family members and their surrounding communities are confident that we are taking all steps necessary to protect their health.''

The operation in West Africa is providing logistics, training and engineering support to the U.S. humanitarian program fighting the Ebola outbreak in the region. On Sunday, Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky replaced Williams as commander of Operation United Assistance.

In a prior Record article, Carlton responded: “My regular unit, the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC), Joint Planning Support Element (JPSE), Naval Station Norfolk, Va., sent a team of joint military planners to assist U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) in Vicenza, Italy and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) in Stuttgart, Germany in the planning of Operation UNITED ASSISTANCE,” Carlton replied via e-mail.

Operation UNITED ASSISTANCE is the U.S. military humanitarian response supporting the USAID-led comprehensive U.S. Government and international effort to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. “As detailed in national and international news reports, this is the worst Ebola Virus outbreak in history. I am working in the USARAF Joint Operations Center (JOC) located at Caserma Del-Din Army Garrison, Vicenza, Italy,” he wrote.

Carlton further explained the responsibilities of the medical section of the USARAF JOC involve helping to identify the local medical capabilities in Liberia and Senegal, coordinating the construction of a military field hospital in Monrovia, Liberia to be run by the U.S. Public Health Service.

Carlton said the group from his unit does not have an exact return date as of yet, and dates have not been released.

President Barack Obama announced he dispatched 3,000 U.S. troops to the region with health care and aid workers in an effort to contain the deadly virus, in the Sept. 16, 2014 edition of USA Today.

The expanded, $763 million, military-led plan will include a new regional U.S. base in Liberia; portable hospitals, laboratories and other medical facilities; and increased training for first responders and other medical officials throughout West Africa. It's the largest response to an international epidemic in U.S. history, Obama said after meeting with the nation's top public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Since first sending troops to respond to the Ebola crisis, the military announced October 3 an additional 1,000 troops could be sent to West Africa to help fight the virus.

And that number could go higher than that, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. "I'm not going to put a floor or ceiling on this," Kirby said.

The Texas Constitution reads:

Sec. 15. COUNTY COURT; COUNTY JUDGE. There shall be established in each county in this State a County Court, which shall be a court of record; and there shall be elected in each county, by the qualified voters, a County Judge, who shall be well informed in the law of the State; shall be a conservator of the peace, and shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be elected and qualified. He shall receive as compensation for his services such fees and perquisites as may be prescribed by law.

(Amended Nov. 2, 1954.)

Likewise the Local Government Code reads:

Sec. 81.001. COMPOSITION, PRESIDING OFFICER. (a) The members of the commissioners court are the county judge and the county commissioners.

(b) If present, the county judge is the presiding officer of the commissioners court. Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Sec. 81.002. OATH, BOND. (a) Before undertaking the duties of the county judge or a county commissioner, a person must take the official oath and swear in writing that the person will not be interested, directly or indirectly, in a contract with or claim against the county except:

(1) a contract or claim expressly authorized by law; or

(2) a warrant issued to the judge or commissioner as a fee of office.

(b) A commissioner must execute a bond, payable to the county treasurer, in the amount of $3,000. The bond must be approved by the county judge and must be conditioned on the faithful performance of the commissioner's official duties. The bond must also be conditioned that the commissioner:

(1) will reimburse the county for all county funds illegally paid to the commissioner; and

(2) will not vote or consent to make a payment of county funds except for a lawful purpose.

(c) Subject to the provisions of Chapter 171, the county judge or a county commissioner may serve as a member of the governing body of or as an officer or director of an entity that does business with the county, excluding a publicly traded corporation or a subsidiary, affiliate, or subdivision of a publicly traded corporation.

Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 475, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1989; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 13.02, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Thibodeaux speculated Carlton may have to undergo a 21-day quarantine.

“It's too early to tell. I'll stay on a little longer if asked to help out,” he said. “I'll do whatever it takes to solidify the court.”


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