Chemical Bank & Trust Co. v. Falkner

In Chemical Bank & Trust Co. v. Falkner, 369 S.W.2d 427 (Tex. 1963), Chemical Bank sought mandamus from this Court to compel Falkner, as Banking Commissioner of Texas, to issue Chemical Bank a certificate of authority to operate in Harris County, Texas. Two banks in Harris County, who opposed issuing a charter to Chemical Bank, intervened in the mandamus proceeding. The intervenors argued that the Court had no jurisdiction to issue mandamus against the Banking Commissioner, because he was not a state officer within article 1733's meaning. Chemical Bank, 369 S.W.2d at 429 (citing language in article 1733, a predecessor to section 22.002(a)). The Court concluded that Falker, as the Banking Commissioner, is an officer of state government within the statute's meaning. The Court pointed out that although Falkner was a Finance Commission employee, this did not prevent Falkner from being an officer of the state government. The Court observed that Falkner was far more than just a Finance Commission employee, because the many powers and duties the Legislature conferred upon him were not subject to the Finance Commission's control. Chemical Bank, 369 S.W.2d at 430. For example, the Court observed, although Falkner's duties included presiding over Finance Commission meetings, he did not vote unless to break a tie. And he had other powers, such as issuing a charter, that the Finance Commission did not control. Chemical Bank, 369 S.W.2d at 430-31. The Court concluded that the Legislature gave the Banking Commissioner, individually, the authority to carry out the general administration of the State's banking affairs. Thus, the Court held that Falkner was performing sovereign functions of the government for the protection and benefit of the public and, as such, he was a state officer as article 1733 contemplated. Chemical Bank, 369 S.W.2d at 430. Chemical Bank involved a single state government officer and not a board or commission. Further, the state officer subject to mandamus in Chemical Bank had statutory powers and duties apart from those of the commission for which he worked. Chemical Bank, 369 S.W.2d at 430.