History of the County Attorney
Attorneys Who Have Served as Montgomery County Attorney
(Portions of this information were abstracted from original records in the Texas State Archives, Austin, Texas 1836-1884 (dates are either election or commission dates); and Montgomery County Clerk’s records 1884-1980, as found in the 1981 Montgomery County History at pages 17 – 28, published by the Montgomery County Genealogical and History Society.)
|J D Lambright||2013 - present|
|David K. Walker||2001 – 2012|
|Frank H. Bass, Jr.||1993 – 2000|
|D.C “Jim” Dozier||1985 – 1992|
|Larry L. Foerster||1981 – 1984|
|William J. Bernardino||1965 – 1980|
|Ellis A. Oualline, Jr.||1960 – 1964|
|George W. Morris||1954 – 1960|
|A. K. Stewart||1950 – 1954|
|J. W. Simpson, Jr.||1948 – 1950|
|J. W. Simpson||1946 – 1948|
|Paul Grogan||1944 – 1946|
|Arnold Smith||1940 – 1944|
|Paul Grogan||1934 – 1940|
|A. A. (Sam) Turner||1928 – 1934|
|Joe W. Strode||1924 – 1928|
|Nat Hart Davis||1920 – 1924|
|Robert J. Sullivan||1912 – 1920|
|W. M. Williams||1906 – 1912|
|J. E. Wells||1902 – 1906|
|J. W. Lewis||1900 – 1902|
|Clinton W. Nugent||1898 – 1900|
|James T. Rucks||1896 – 1898|
|John M. Lewis||1894 – 1896|
|James T. Rucks||1890 – 1894|
|B. H. Powell||1884 - 1890|
|W. P. McComb||-1882|
|A. Richards, Jr.||1880|
|James R. Davis||1878|
|J. E. White||1876, 1878|
|W. J. McGrew||1867|
Creation of the Office of County Attorney
The current Constitution of the State of Texas took effect on February 15, 1876, and is the seventh (including the Mexican constitution) constitution in Texas history. The previous six were adopted in 1827 (while Texas was still part of Mexico), 1836 (as the Republic of Texas), 1845, 1861, 1866 and 1869.
The 1866 Constitution of the State of Texas provided for the creation of the County Courts and the office of County Attorney. That document stated “the Legislature may provide for the appointment of a County Attorney to represent the State and county in said court, whose term of office, duties and compensation shall be such as may be prescribed by law”. It appears, however, the office of County Attorney disappeared just 3 years later, as there is no mention of such a position in the 1869 Texas Constitution.
But some 7 years later in 1876, Texas adopted its seventh and current Constitution. Article V. Section 21 of the 1876 Constitution stated “A county attorney, for counties in which there is not a resident criminal district attorney, shall be elected by the qualified voters of each county, who shall be commissioned by the governor, and hold his office for the term of two years. In case of vacancy the Commissioners’ Court of the county shall have power to appoint a county attorney until the next general election. The county attorneys shall represent the State in all cases in the District and inferior courts in their respective counties, but if any county shall be included in a district in which there shall be a district attorney, the respective duties of district attorneys and county attorneys shall in such counties by regulated by the Legislature. The Legislature may provide for the election of district attorneys in such districts, as may be deemed necessary, and make provision for the compensation of district attorneys and county attorneys.”
General Duties of County Attorneys
Under our Constitution, Texas has three different types of local state’s attorneys. These are county attorneys, district attorneys, and criminal district attorneys. The Constitution provides that every county that does not have a resident criminal district attorney will have an elected county attorney. In counties where there are both a county attorney and a district attorney, the state legislature specifies the respective duties, both criminal and civil, of each position. Consequently, the duties of county attorneys vary substantially from county to county.
Duties of the Montgomery County Attorney
Provisions describing the duties of the County Attorney in Montgomery County are contained in Vernon’s Texas Codes Annotated, Government Code Section 45.270 that became effective June 17, 2005.
- The county attorney of Montgomery County, or the County Attorney’s assistants, shall represent the state, Montgomery County, and the officials of the county in all civil matters pending before a court of Montgomery County or any other court.
- The county attorney has the powers, duties, and privileges in Montgomery County relating to:
- Civil commitment matters under Subtitle C, Title 7, Health and Safety Code;
- Juvenile matters, including proceedings under Title 3, Family Code;
- Child Protective Services; and
- Protective orders under Title 4, Family Code.
- Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the Commissioners Court in Montgomery County may retain independent counsel in any civil matter.
- Regarding worthless checks, the County Attorney has the authority to draft the criminal complaints for worthless checks under articles 2.04 and 2.05 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. By agreement with the District Attorney, the County Attorney files the theft by check cases under the name of the District Attorney and they handle the prosecution, while the County Attorney handles the collection.
- Finally, in addition to the authority provided above by Vernon’s Texas Codes Annotated, Government Code Section 45.270, the County Attorney handles mental health cases pursuant to Chapters 573 and 574 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.