State law provides for the temporary replacement of a court’s presiding judge if they are absent, incapacitated or disqualified from a particular case, whether criminal or civil.

Article 5, Section 16 of the Texas Constitution names the county judge as the presiding officer of county courts, which means the county judge has the duty to appoint a visiting judge when the circumstances warrant a presiding judge’s temporary removal from a case.

The Texas Rules for Civil Procedure outlines when a judge can be removed and includes financial and familial conflicts, as well as other circumstances when a judge’s impartiality could reasonably be in question.

At the state level, district judges are supervised by an presiding judge for their administrative region. Among the many duties for those presiding administrative judges are to assign a visiting judge to a case or court as needed, which can also include assigning a visiting judge to clear a backlog of cases.

Visiting judges usually come from outside the jurisdiction they are assigned and can help preserve the integrity of the bench.

— Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

What do you want to know? Email your question for Insight Denton to pheinkel-wolfe@dentonrc.com.

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