In re Bailey – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In In re Bailey, 975 S.W.2d 430 (Tex. App. - Waco 1998, orig. proceeding), a petition under Tex. Loc. Gov't Code section 152.072 containing the requisite number of signatures was filed in the commissioners court.

In response, the commissioners court offered an alternative salary proposal. That proposal, however, was rejected, so the commissioners court voted to place a portion of the petition's proposed salary plan on the ballot.

The relator sought mandamus relief asserting that he was entitled to have the petition's salary plan placed on the ballot in its entirety.

The commissioners court, however, argued that the petition sought to set longevity pay, which was not an existing method of compensation in the sheriff's department.

After examining the petition and applicable statutes, the court concluded that because the petition included a scheme for longevity pay neither required nor provided by the county, the petition "arguably exceeded the limits of section 152.072."

The court thus denied the petition on the basis that it could not say the commissioners court had "a clear duty to act." Id., at 432. In sum, members of the Navarro County sheriff's department circulated a Tex. Loc. Gov't Code section 152.072 petition that set minimum salaries and provided for seniority pay and a salary step plan. Bailey, 975 S.W.2d at 431.

The commissioners court set for election only that part of the petition that concerned minimum salaries. Id.

A deputy sheriff sought a writ of mandamus from the court of appeals compelling the commissioners court to set the entire petition for election. Id.

The Waco court of appeals held that the commissioners court did not have a "clear duty" to include the petition's seniority and salary-step provisions on the ballot because those provisions "arguably exceeded the limits of section 152.072." Id. at 432.