Commissioners Court attorney to retire

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader


Concerns arisen as citizens saw an agenda item for a Public Workshop concerning discussion of legal representation of Commissioners Court.

Assistant District Attorney Douglas Manning has been advising the court for nearly 20 years and has recently announced his retirement effective January 2018.

Manning’s retirement creates an opportunity for the court to have their legal representation either remain within the District Attorney’s office, or exercise their right to create a new position specific to the court’s needs – possibly using outside counsel on a per hour basis.

District Attorney John Kimbrough was present and said the court can obviously decide to do what they want, however it is his opinion the cost benefit to taxpayers by keeping the court’s legal representation within the District Attorney’s office is the right move.

“Currently there are cost efficiencies within the DA’s office the taxpayers would have to otherwise pay for if the court created a new position,” Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough explained the Commissioners’ Court would have to find office space, and pay for office supplies, Westlaw legal research system, secretaries, continuing education expenses, and the like.

Judge Stephen Brint Carlton asked Kimbrough, “If the court hired its own legal representative, would you still need to hire another position in the DA’s office?”

“Yes,” Kimbrough replied, explaining further there is likely 50 percent of what Manning is tasked with as an Assistant District Attorney that is not specific to representing the Commissioners Court.

“There would be issues outside counsel would still have to pass through the DA’s office,” Kimbrough said. “There are certain things only the District Attorney’s office can do whereas an outside firm would have limited authority in certain situations. The current structure does not have that barrier to efficiency. I believe it is cost prohibitive to the taxpayer’s of the county for the court to hire outside counsel.”

Commissioner John Gothia expressed his concern the court would not receive sufficient attention to matters of the court if legal representation remained with the DA’s office.

Kimbrough assured the court he believes there are efficiencies that can be created moving forward and the court’s business would therefore not be hindered.

“If there is a problem, come and talk to me. We’ll get it fixed,” Kimbrough said.