Clark v. Tarrant County, Tex., Civ. A. No. 4-82-260 K.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
Writing for the CourtBELEW
Citation608 F. Supp. 209
Decision Date20 March 1985
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 4-82-260 K.
PartiesAugusta CLARK, Vicki Hammond and Brenda Buckner v. TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS and Tarrant County Adult Probation Department.

608 F. Supp. 209

Augusta CLARK, Vicki Hammond and Brenda Buckner
v.
TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS and Tarrant County Adult Probation Department.

Civ. A. No. 4-82-260 K.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division.

March 20, 1985.


608 F. Supp. 210

Art Brender, Fort Worth, Tex., for plaintiff.

Donald K. Buckman, Robert S. Travis, Cantey Hanger Gooch Munn & Collins, Tim Curry, Crim. Dist. Atty., Matthew A. King, Asst. Dist. Atty., Fort Worth, Tex., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BELEW, District Judge.

There is pending before the Court Defendant Tarrant County's Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(7) and Rule 12(b)(6)1 as well as the Motion of Defendant Tarrant County Adult Probation Department ("TCAPD") for Summary Judgment and Dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1).

Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that the TCAPD and the County discriminate against female probation officers with regard to salary and promotions within the TCAPD in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 2000e et seq., and the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, back pay, costs, and attorneys' fees.

The County argues, in essence, that no claim upon which relief could be granted has been stated against it because it is an entity wholly distinct from the TCAPD and Plaintiffs' grievances concern the TCAPD only. The TCAPD argues that we lack jurisdiction on the Section 2000e claim because, based on Texas statutes and customs which define the nature of Plaintiffs' positions, they are not "employees" within the meaning of 2000e(f). It argues that we lack jurisdiction on all other claims because the TCAPD is an arm of the state and, hence, immune under the Eleventh Amendment. After an oral hearing in which testimony and written documents were received into evidence and after careful consideration of the motions, responses, briefs and affidavits, the Court has determined that there is no genuine issue of material fact and renders judgment in favor of both Defendants for the reasons set forth in the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Findings of Fact

1. Plaintiffs Augusta Clark, Vicki Hammond, and Brenda Buckner are, or were in

608 F. Supp. 211
the time period relevant to this lawsuit, female probation officers for the TCAPD

2. The TCAPD and the other adult probation departments around the state were created by Art. 42.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Under Art. 42.12, the adult probation offices which exist in Texas are under the direct supervision of the state judiciary.

3. Art. 42.12, § 1, Tex.Code Crim.Proc. states:

It is the purpose of this Article to place wholly within the State courts of appropriate jurisdiction the responsibility for determining when the imposition of sentence in certain cases shall be suspended, the conditions of probation, and the supervision of probationers, in consonance with the powers assigned to the judicial branch of this government by the Constitution of Texas.

4. Art. 42.12, § 10(a), Tex.Code Crim. Proc. states that the state district judges trying criminal cases shall establish a probation office and employ the necessary district personnel. Subsection (b) provides that when more than one probation officer is required, the state judges shall appoint a Chief Probation Officer who, with the judge's approval, shall appoint assistants and other employees.

5. State district judges are responsible for running the TCAPD and the salaries of the probation officers are paid from the funds of the state judicial district.

6. Chief probation officers are appointed by district judges. The chief probation officers then, pending the approval of their district judge, appoint the other probation officers.

7. The principal source of income for general operating expenses of the TCAPD is an appropriation made by the Texas legislature every two years. Fees paid by probationers supply the remainder.

8. The County does not hire, fire, supervise, or pay the salaries of adult probation officers.

9. The only official involvement that the County has with the TCAPD is that it is required by statute to provide physical facilities, equipment, and utilities as well as enter into a contract with the district judges allowing probation officers to participate in that county's group insurance or self insurance programs and in the retirement plan.

10. Any judgment that Plaintiffs might obtain in this case could be satisfied only from state funds.

Conclusions of Law

A. The County Defendant

Plaintiffs' sole rationale for suing the County is their initial belief that Tarrant County was their employer while they were at the TCAPD. See First Amended Complaint, ¶ III. Based on our finding of fact with respect to the lack of a significant relationship between the TCAPD and the County,2 we dismiss the cause of action against the County pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). See Tex.Code Crim.P. art. 42.12; see generally Shore v. Howard, 414 F.Supp. 379, 384-85 (N.D.Tex.1976) (Mahon, J.) (official acts of TCAPD held to be done as agent for judges); Op.Atty.Gen. 1983, No. MW-542 (each judicial district is required to establish and maintain its own district probation office).

B. The TCAPD

The TCAPD is a creation of the State of Texas and is an extension of the state judiciary. See supra Findings of Fact 2-10; Shore 414 F.Supp. at 384-85. Therefore, a lawsuit against the TCAPD is a lawsuit against the state. See Johnson v. Texas Department of Corrections, 373 F.Supp. 1108 (S.D.Tex.1974) (lawsuit against Department of Corrections is lawsuit against the state); Hughes v. Turnpike Authority of Kentucky, 353 F.Supp. 1105 (E.D.Ky.1973) (lawsuit against the Authority which had no meaningful existence apart from Kentucky Highway Department is lawsuit against state); Lowe v.

608 F. Supp. 212
Texas Tech University, 540 S.W.2d 297 (Tex.1976) (lawsuit against Texas Tech is lawsuit against state).3 By virtue of the Eleventh Amendment4 and judicial interpretation thereof, a state enjoys immunity from lawsuits brought against it by its own citizens. Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10 S.Ct. 504, 33 L.Ed. 842 (1898). A state's judicial system shares sovereign immunity and since the TCAPD is part of that system, it, too, is generally immune from suit. See NAACP v. State of California, 511 F.Supp. 1244, 1257-58 (E.D.Cal.1981); Louis v. Supreme Court of Nevada, 490 F.Supp. 1174, 1180 (D.Nev.1980); see also Lokey v. Richardson, 534 F.Supp. 1015, 1019 (N.D.Cal.1982) ("the California Adult Authority is ... absolutely immune from liability") rev'd on other grounds, 527 F.2d 949 (9th Cir.1975) reversal vacated, 540 F.2d 1022 (9th Cir.1976), rev'd on other grounds, 600 F.2d 1265 (9th Cir.1979)

A State's sovereign immunity, and thus, the TCAPD's immunity, is not absolute, however; it can be sued if it expressly consents, see, e.g., Florida Department of Health v. Florida Nursing Home Association, 450 U.S. 147, 101 S.Ct. 1032, 67 L.Ed.2d 132 (1981)5 or it can be sued if Congress has expressly abrogated its immunity by federal statute. The Supreme Court has held that both Title VII and, to a far lesser extent, Section 1983 limits a state's sovereign immunity....

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7 practice notes
  • Forrester v. White, No. 84-1823
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • June 5, 1986
    ...as a press officer. See also Hudson v. Burke, 617 F.Supp. 1501 (N.D.Ill.1985); cf. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e(f); Clark v. Tarrant County, 608 F.Supp. 209, 212-14 Thus, far from placing the judicial branch above the executive and legislative branches, a decision today in favor of the defendant wo......
  • Yowman v. Jefferson County Community Supervision, No. 1:03-CV-543.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • January 28, 2005
    ...therefore be directed against the `Judges ....'" 414 F.Supp. at 385; see Sullivan, 106 S.W.3d at 189 (citing Clark v. Tarrant County, 608 F.Supp. 209, 211 (N.D.Tex.1985), rev'd in part on other grounds, 798 F.2d at 739 (5th Cir.1986) (holding that probation department employees are not coun......
  • Rodriguez v. Township of Holiday Lakes, Civ. A. No. G-94-125.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • October 27, 1994
    ...At least one other court has held that a personal staff exists between an individual and a group. Clark v. Tarrant County, Tex., 608 F.Supp. 209, 214 (N.D.Tex.1985), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 798 F.2d 736 (5th Cir.1986). In Clark, individual probation officers were held to be part of......
  • Clark v. Tarrant County, Tex., No. 85-1249
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 27, 1986
    ...of the state judiciary. He granted summary judgment for Tarrant County, finding that appellants were not employees of Tarrant County. 608 F.Supp. 209. After the issuance of the court's opinion, Clark tried once again to have the deposition transcripts entered into the record by motion on Ma......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Forrester v. White, No. 84-1823
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • June 5, 1986
    ...as a press officer. See also Hudson v. Burke, 617 F.Supp. 1501 (N.D.Ill.1985); cf. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e(f); Clark v. Tarrant County, 608 F.Supp. 209, 212-14 Thus, far from placing the judicial branch above the executive and legislative branches, a decision today in favor of the defendant wo......
  • Yowman v. Jefferson County Community Supervision, No. 1:03-CV-543.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • January 28, 2005
    ...therefore be directed against the `Judges ....'" 414 F.Supp. at 385; see Sullivan, 106 S.W.3d at 189 (citing Clark v. Tarrant County, 608 F.Supp. 209, 211 (N.D.Tex.1985), rev'd in part on other grounds, 798 F.2d at 739 (5th Cir.1986) (holding that probation department employees are not coun......
  • Rodriguez v. Township of Holiday Lakes, Civ. A. No. G-94-125.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • October 27, 1994
    ...At least one other court has held that a personal staff exists between an individual and a group. Clark v. Tarrant County, Tex., 608 F.Supp. 209, 214 (N.D.Tex.1985), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 798 F.2d 736 (5th Cir.1986). In Clark, individual probation officers were held to be part of......
  • Clark v. Tarrant County, Tex., No. 85-1249
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 27, 1986
    ...of the state judiciary. He granted summary judgment for Tarrant County, finding that appellants were not employees of Tarrant County. 608 F.Supp. 209. After the issuance of the court's opinion, Clark tried once again to have the deposition transcripts entered into the record by motion on Ma......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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