Attorney General Opinions

February 02, 2017

Legislative News

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TAC has highlighted recent Attorney General Opinions of interest to counties.

KP-0127 The admissibility of certain forensic analyses in Texas courts, statutory authority of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, and reporting requirements for certain crime laboratories.

(RQ-0117-KP) Summary: In addressing the admissibility of forensic analysis of physical evidence, article 38.35(d)(l) of the Code of Criminal Procedure prevails over Rule 702 of the Texas Rules of Evidence to the extent of a conflict, pursuant to Rule 101(d) of the Texas Rules of Evidence.
A court would likely conclude that (1) "forensic analysis" as defined in article 38.35 of the Code of Criminal Procedure from a crime laboratory that is neither accredited by the Forensic Science Commission nor exempt from accreditation by statute or administrative rule is inadmissible in a criminal action in a Texas court under article 38.35(d)(l); and (2) the Commission may refrain from granting an exemption from accreditation under article 38.01, subpart (4-d)(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure in its reasonable discretion.

A court would likely conclude that, pursuant to article 38.01, subpart 4(a)(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a crime laboratory must report professional negligence or professional misconduct pertaining to forensic analyses in all disciplines-not just those that are accredited-to the Commission.

KP-0128 Whether certain financial transactions of the San Jacinto River Authority comply with the Public Funds Investment Act and the Public Funds Collateral Act 
(RQ-0118-KP) Summary: Consistent with Texas Attorney General Opinion GA-0834 (2011), a court could conclude that a time deposit account fully insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is within the scope of an "other obligation" under Government Code subsection 2256.009(a)(4).

Given the varied state of the relevant jurisprudence, we cannot predict whether a Texas court would determine as a matter of law that a federal home loan bank is an agency or instrumentality of the United States within the scope of Government Code subsection 2256.009(a)(l ).

To the extent a depository institution is an agency or instrumentality of the United States and is not otherwise limited by any governing statute in guaranteeing its obligations in a manner similar to section 1435, title 12, United States Code, a court would likely determine that a certificate of deposit investment secured by a letter of credit from such entity comports with subsection 2256.009(a)(l) of the Government Code.

Under Government Code subsection 2256.010(a)(l)-(3), a deposit of funds in a certificate of deposit must be to a depository institution that has its main office or a branch office in this State. A court would likely conclude that a money market deposit, in an amount exceeding the amount of FDIC insurance could be secured by another obligation in Government Code subsection 2256.009(a)(4).

KP-0129 Administration and procedures related to motor vehicle registration
(RQ-0119-KP) Summary: Under chapters 502 and 520 of the Transportation Code, both the Department of Motor Vehicles and county assessor-collectors provide various motor vehicle registration services.

Pursuant to section 502.044 of the Transportation Code, the Department has statutory authority to print and mail registration insignia.

Section 1001.013 of the Transportation Code authorizes the Department to contract with a business entity to perform a Department function, including issuing registration insignia.
No statute of which we are aware requires the Department to seek county approval before entering into a contract with a private vendor to perform a Department function.

KP-0130 Whether a county attorney who is appointed to serve as a special prosecutor may be paid additional compensation
(RQ-0120-KP) Summary: A county attorney is not entitled to receive extra compensation for representing the State in a criminal matter in the county's district court at the request of the district attorney.