|City of Pasadena, TX v. Smith, No. 06-0948 (Tex. Aug. 28, 2009)(Hecht)
(local civil service, disciplinary process, independent hearing examiner exceeded
authority)(arbitrator distinguished from hearing examiner)
CITY OF PASADENA, TEXAS v. RICHARD SMITH; from Harris County;
1st district (01-05-01157-CV, 263 SW3d 80, 09-14-06)
The Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and remands the case to the trial
Justice Nathan Hecht delivered the opinion of the Court.
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City of Pasadena v Smith Set for Oral Argument (JCB)
City of Pasadena Texas v. Smith (Tex. 2009)
Argued September 10, 2008
Justice Hecht delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Fire Fighters and Police Officers Civil Service Act1 limits the grounds for judicial
review of a hearing examiner’s decision in an appeal from a disciplinary suspension,2
but as we observed in City of Houston v. Clark, if those limitations do not allow for
meaningful review, they may violate constitutional restrictions on the delegation of
government authority to a private person.3 One ground is that the hearing officer
exceeded his jurisdiction.4 In this case we hold that the hearing examiner exceeded his
jurisdiction in summarily reversing an officer’s indefinite suspension and reinstating
him with back pay and full benefits because the Act requires a hearing examiner to
reach a decision based on evidence. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the
court of appeals5 and remand the case to the district court for further proceedings.
City of Pasadena Police Chief M. A. Massey suspended officer Richard Smith
indefinitely. The Act gave Smith two routes of appeal — either to the City’s civil service
commission6 or to an independent third-party hearing examiner7 — and he chose the
latter, as civil service employees often do.8 The parties selected a hearing examiner
from a list provided by the American Arbitration Association.9 When the hearing
convened, counsel for the City announced ready, but counsel for Smith moved that
the suspension be overturned and that Smith be reinstated without further ado
because Chief Massey — the department head10 on whose statement the suspension
was based11 — was not present. The City’s counsel stated that he was prepared to
prove the grounds for the suspension through Assistant Chief Rahr, who was present,
but the hearing examiner agreed with Smith, concluding that “these charges should be
dismissed”. The hearing concluded in less than half an hour without any evidence
Later, in a written decision, the hearing examiner ruled that Smith should be
reinstated, that he should be fully compensated for the time he had been suspended,
and that all service credits and benefits should be restored. The written decision gave
as the sole ground for the ruling: “As the Department Head failed to appear under
Texas Local Government Code, Section 143.1015(2)(k)(4), at hearing on December 9,
2004, the Hearing Examiner upheld the appeal and dismissed the charges against
Officer Smith.” No such section exists. The hearing examiner apparently meant section
143.1015(k) of the Act, which states in part: “The director [of fire fighters’ and police
officers’ civil service12] may not send the hearing examiner the department head’s
original written statement. The department head shall submit the written statement and
charges to the hearing examiner at the hearing.”13 The hearing examiner also
appears to have overlooked the fact that some of the Act’s provisions, including
section 143.1015, apply only to a city with a population of at least 1.5 million — viz,
Houston.14 The City of Pasadena, a Houston suburb, does not qualify.15
The City petitioned the district court for review. Smith filed a plea to the jurisdiction,
arguing that the City’s petition was untimely. The court sustained the plea, and the City
appealed. Without addressing the timeliness of the appeal,16 the court held that the
district court had no jurisdiction over the case under section 143.057(j) of the Act.17
We granted the City’s petition for review.18
Section 143.057(j), which is not limited to cities over 1.5 million,19 states in pertinent
part: “A district court may hear an appeal of a hearing examiner’s award only on the
grounds that the arbitration panel was without jurisdiction or exceeded its jurisdiction
or that the order was procured by fraud, collusion, or other unlawful means.”20
Because subsection 143.057(j) is identical to the provision we construed in Clark,
section 143.1016(j), though that section applies only to Houston,21 Clark applies to all
civil service cities.22
Clark rejected the argument that only a fire fighter or police officer can appeal to the
district court and held that a municipality may appeal as well, even though the statute
is silent on the subject.23 In reaching that conclusion, we were mindful that
“interpreting Section 143.1016(j) to foreclose municipalities’ appellate rights could well
render the Legislature’s delegation of authority to independent hearing examiners
constitutionally suspect.”24 The potential problem was the nondelegation doctrine —
the Texas Constitution’s restrictions on the delegation of governmental power,
especially to private persons, which we thoroughly explained in Texas Boll Weevil
Eradication Foundation, Inc. v. Lewellen.25 There, we reiterated:
The Texas Legislature may delegate its powers to agencies established to carry out
legislative purposes, as long as it establishes reasonable standards to guide the entity
to which the powers are delegated.
* * *
The separation of powers clause [Tex. Const. art. II, § 1] requires that the standards of
delegation be reasonably clear and hence acceptable as a standard of measurement.
A delegation of power without such standards is an abdication of the authority to set
government policy which the Constitution assigns to the legislative department. While
legislative delegations of authority to other governmental entities can raise
constitutional concerns, private delegations clearly raise even more troubling
constitutional issues than their public counterparts. On a practical basis, the private
delegate may have a personal or pecuniary interest which is inconsistent with or
repugnant to the public interest to be served. More fundamentally, the basic concept
of democratic rule under a republican form of government is compromised when public
powers are abandoned to those who are neither elected by the people, appointed by a
public official or entity, nor employed by the government. Thus, we believe it axiomatic
that courts should subject private delegations to a more searching scrutiny than their
Applying eight factors,28 we held that the delegation of power to the private entity in
that case was unconstitutional.29
We do not determine here whether this Act’s delegation of authority to a hearing
examiner violates the nondelegation doctrine; we consider only whether the court of
appeals’ construction of section 143.057(j) raises constitutional concerns. Thus, we do
not address all eight factors listed in Boll Weevil but focus on the first one — whether
the hearing examiner’s “actions [are] subject to meaningful review by a state agency or
other branch of state government”30 — because it is directly implicated by the scope
of review in section 143.057(j). The Act’s use of independent hearing examiners
provides a forum for resolving civil service disputes that is detached from city
government, thus furthering the Act’s purpose of “secur[ing] efficient fire and police
departments composed of capable personnel who are free from political influence and
who have permanent employment tenure as public servants.”31 In Proctor v. Andrews,
we rejected the contention that the Act violates the nondelegation doctrine by failing to
provide adequate standards for assuring that arbitrators are qualified and neutral.32
Here, the State as amicus curiae argues that submission of civil service disputes to
hearing examiners is simply a resort to arbitration and therefore raises no
constitutional concerns.33 But if the Act does not bind hearing examiners to definite
standards for reaching decisions and instead gives them broad latitude in determining
not only factual disputes but the applicable law, they become not merely independent
arbiters but policy makers, which is a legislative function. This would raise
nondelegation concerns, an issue noted but not addressed in Proctor.34 It is one thing
for a hearing examiner to determine whether conduct for which an officer or fire fighter
has been disciplined occurred as charged; it is quite another thing for a hearing
examiner to decide whether conduct that did occur deserves discipline. If a city can
invoke judicial review to require that a hearing examiner’s ruling be made according to
law, one concern of the nondelegation doctrine is satisfied. But as we observed in
Clark, “if the right of appeal provided by Section 143.1016(j) does not afford a city
meaningful review of the merits of a [hearing examiner’s] decision, . . . delegation of
grievance decisions to an independent hearing examiner may raise constitutional
Thus, in construing the scope of judicial review permitted by section 143.057(j), we
must be mindful as in Clark that “[w]hen faced with multiple constructions of a statute,
we must interpret the statutory language in a manner that renders it constitutional if it
is possible to do so”.36 The City argues that the hearing examiner’s summary ruling
exceeded his jurisdiction within the meaning of section 143.057(j). The statute actually
refers to an “arbitration panel” exceeding its jurisdiction, but the term includes a
hearing examiner.37 The reference to arbitration suggests the source for the statutory
text. The predecessor to section 143.057(j) was first enacted in 1983.38 The Texas
General Arbitration Act, enacted in 1965, uses similar language in providing that a
court can vacate an arbitration award “procured by corruption, fraud or other undue
means” or where “[t]he arbitrators exceeded their powers”.39 The Federal Arbitration
Act, enacted in 1947, uses almost identical language.40
An arbitrator derives his power from the parties’ agreement to submit to arbitration,
41 and because the law favors arbitration, and arbitration agreements are often quite
broad, judicial review of an arbitration award is usually very narrow.42 By contrast, an
independent hearing examiner’s jurisdiction is created by the Act and comes with
significant constraints. The Act states that “[i]n each hearing conducted [on appeal
from a promotional bypass or disciplinary action], the hearing examiner has the same
duties and powers as the [civil service] commission”.43 The Act prescribes various
deadlines, procedures, and limitations on the commission,44 which apply equally to
hearing examiners.45 Importantly, the Act states: “The commission shall conduct the
hearing fairly and impartially as prescribed by this chapter and shall render a just and
fair decision. The commission may consider only the evidence submitted at the
hearing.”46 This provision both confers and limits the power of a commission and a
hearing examiner. It mandates that a decision be made on evidence submitted at the
The hearing examiner in this case violated that requirement. His ruling was based
entirely on the absence of the department head, a witness the City did not expect to
offer. The hearing examiner did not allow evidence to be presented. Nothing in the Act
permitted him to rule as he did. Smith argues that the hearing examiner could
reasonably have concluded that since section 143.1015(k) requires the presence of
the department head at civil service appeal proceedings in Houston, the same rule
should apply in other cities. But the Act does not empower a hearing examiner to make
rules. He had no authority to impose on the City a requirement that the Act makes
quite clear does not apply. Moreover, even when section 143.1015(k) does apply, it
does not authorize rendition of a default judgment as an automatic penalty for
noncompliance.47 Smith argues that the hearing examiner can be faulted only for a
simple mistake of law, but it clearly exceeds a hearing examiner’s jurisdiction to refuse
to hear evidence before deciding that a police officer was improperly disciplined,
contrary to the express requirement of the Act.
Smith faults the City for not pointing out to the hearing examiner the inapplicability of
section 143.1015(k), and for not requesting a continuance. Certainly, the City would
have been better served had counsel done so. But the City’s failure to object to an
incorrect citation cannot expand the jurisdiction of a hearing examiner, any more than
it could expand the jurisdiction of a trial court.
We agree with the court of appeals: “[a]sserting that a decision made by the hearing
examiner is incorrect is not the same as asserting that the examiner did not have
jurisdiction.”48 In borrowing language from the Texas Arbitration Act, the Act appears
to intend a restrictive standard for judicial review. But the court of appeals failed to
recognize that the Act imposes significant limits on hearing examiners’ authority to
determine disciplinary action disputes, and the nondelegation doctrine requires
enforcement of those limits. Those limits restrict a hearing examiner’s jurisdiction. It is
difficult to distill from these statutory and constitutional constraints a simple, precise
standard for determining whether a hearing examiner has exceeded his jurisdiction.
Five courts of appeals have stated that it occurs when the ruling amounts to an abuse
of authority.49 Three of the five have added that “[a]n abuse of authority occurs when
a decision is so arbitrary and unreasonable that it amounts to a clear and prejudicial
error of law.”50 None of these expressions accurately restates the restrictions on a
hearing examiner’s authority. Even incidental errors in applying the law may be
considered clear and prejudicial, and almost any decision seems unreasonable to the
loser. A hearing examiner may exceed his jurisdiction even if his decision is reasoned
rather than arbitrary. And while a hearing examiner abuses his authority if he exceeds
his jurisdiction, the former phrase does nothing to inform the latter. The most accurate
test we can state is that a hearing examiner exceeds his jurisdiction when his acts are
not authorized by the Act or are contrary to it, or when they invade the policy-setting
realm protected by the nondelegation doctrine.
By that test, the hearing examiner in this case exceeded his jurisdiction, and
therefore the City’s appeal to the district court was authorized under section 143.057
(j). The issue remains whether it was timely perfected. Since the Act does not
expressly provide for an appeal by a city — we have construed it to do so to avoid
constitutional problems — it understandably does not expressly set a deadline for a
city’s appeal. We have held that “[w]hen a statute lacks an express limitations period,
courts look to analogous causes of action for which an express limitations period is
available either by statute or by case law.”51 Here, the parties disagree as to whether
a deadline for appeal is jurisdictional or in the nature of limitations, and we need not
resolve that issue. In either event, the same rule applies: we look to a provision related
to the right of appeal for a deadline. There are two possibilities in the Act. One is
section 143.1016(j), applicable only to Houston, which provides that “[i]f the basis for
the appeal of the hearing examiner’s award is based on the grounds that the
arbitration panel was without jurisdiction or exceeded its jurisdiction, the petition must
be filed in district court within 10 days of the hearing examiner’s decision.”52 The other
is section 143.015(a), which applies to other cities:
If a fire fighter or police officer is dissatisfied with any commission decision, the fire
fighter or police officer may file a petition in district court asking that the decision be
set aside. The petition must be filed within 10 days after the date the final commission
(1) is sent to the fire fighter or police officer by certified mail; or
(2) is personally received by the fire fighter or police officer or by that person’s
We think the latter is the more closely analogous provision in this case, so that the
same deadline applies to all appellants other than in Houston, whether cities, officers,
or fire fighters.
The undisputed facts are that the hearing examiner issued his ruling on March 31,
2005, that the decision was sent by regular mail to the City on April 7, that it was
received April 11, and that the City filed its petition in the district court on April 20.
Since the decision was not sent by certified mail, subsection (1) of section 143.015(a)
does not apply. Under subsection (2), the City’s petition, filed nine days after receipt,
Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand the case
to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Nathan L. Hecht
Opinion delivered: August 28, 2009
|JUSTICE HECHT'S FOOTNOTES
in City of Pasadena v. Smith (Tex. 2009)
1 Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code Chapter 143, §§ 143.001-.363.
2 Id. §§ 143.057(j) (“A district court may hear an appeal of a
hearing examiner's award only on the grounds that the arbitration
panel was without jurisdiction or exceeded its jurisdiction or that
the order was procured by fraud, collusion, or other unlawful
means.”), 143.1016(j) (same for cities with a population of 1.5
million or more).
3 197 S.W.3d 314, 324 (Tex. 2006) (“Of course, if the right of
appeal provided by Section 143.1016(j) does not afford a city
meaningful review of the merits of a decision, . . . delegation of
grievance decisions to an independent hearing examiner may
raise constitutional problems.”) (citing Tex. Boll Weevil
Eradication Found., Inc. v. Lewellen, 952 S.W.2d 454, 472 (Tex.
4 Supra note 2.
5 263 S.W.3d 80 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2006).
6 Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code §§ 143.010, 143.053.
7 Id. § 143.057.
8 See Proctor v. Andrews, 972 S.W.2d 729, 736 (Tex. 1998) (“It
is likely a perception of bias in favor of the City, on the part of the
Civil Service Commission, that prompts officers to request that
their appeal be heard under section 143.057 [by an independent
hearing examiner].”). Amicus curiae, the Texas State Association
of Fire Fighters, confirms that fire fighters have a “strong desire .
. . to appeal . . . to independent hearing examiners . . . rather
than to civil service commissions whose members are appointed
solely by the cities’ chief executives.” Brief of Texas State
Association of Fire Fighters as Amicus Curiae Supporting
Respondent at 2.
9 Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 143.057(d) (“If the appealing fire fighter
or police officer chooses to appeal to a hearing examiner, the fire
fighter or police officer and the department head, or their
designees, shall first attempt to agree on the selection of an
impartial hearing examiner. If the parties do not agree on the
selection of a hearing examiner on or within 10 days after the
date the appeal is filed, the director shall immediately request a
list of seven qualified neutral arbitrators from the American
Arbitration Association or the Federal Mediation and Conciliation
Service, or their successors in function. The fire fighter or police
officer and the department head, or their designees, may agree
on one of the seven neutral arbitrators on the list. If they do not
agree within five working days after the date they received the
list, each party or the party's designee shall alternate striking a
name from the list and the name remaining is the hearing
examiner. The parties or their designees shall agree on a date
for the hearing.”).
10 Id. § 143.003(2) (“‘Department head’ means the chief or head
of a fire or police department or that person’s equivalent,
regardless of the name or title used.”).
11 Id. § 143.052(c) (“If the department head suspends a fire
fighter or police officer, the department head shall, within 120
hours after the hour of suspension, file a written statement with
the commission giving the reasons for the suspension. The
department head shall immediately deliver a copy of the
statement in person to the suspended fire fighter or police
12 Id. § 143.003(3) (“‘Director’ means the director of fire fighters’
and police officers’ civil service.”).
13 Id. § 143.1015(k).
14 Id. § 143.101(a) (“Except as otherwise provided, this
subchapter [G, containing sections 143.101-.135, including
143.1015] applies only to a municipality with a population of 1.5
million or more.”); (b) (“Except as otherwise provided, the
provisions of Subchapters A-F apply to each municipality covered
under this subchapter.”) .
15 According to the 2000 United States census, the population of
the City of Pasadena was 141,674. See U. S. Census Bureau,
“Pasadena city, Texas QuickLinks”, http://quickfacts.census.
16 263 S.W.3d 80, 85 n.6 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2006).
17 Id. at 85.
18 51 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 866 (May 16, 2008) (granted on motion for
rehearing); 51 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 180 (Dec. 7, 2007) (prior
19 See supra note 14; compare Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code §§ 143.053
(a) and .052(a) (“This section does not apply to a municipality
with a population of 1.5 million or more.”), with § 143.057.
20 Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 143.057(j).
21 Id. § 143.101(a) (providing that subchapter G, which includes
143.1016, applies only to a municipality with a population of 1.5
million or more).
22 197 S.W.3d 314, 317 n.4 (Tex. 2006) (“Section 143.1016 was
modeled on the language of Section 143.057. In particular, the
language governing appeals of independent hearing examiner
decisions in Sections 143.1016(c) and (j) exactly duplicates that
of Sections 143.057(c) and (j). Therefore, our decision today is
not limited to the City of Houston; it applies with equal force to all
municipalities governed by Chapter 143 of the Local Government
23 Id. at 318-320.
24 Id. at 320.
25 952 S.W.2d 454 (Tex. 1997).
26 Id. at 467 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
27 Id. at 469.
28 Id. at 472 ( “1. Are the private delegate's actions subject to
meaningful review by a state agency or other branch of state
government? 2. Are the persons affected by the private
delegate's actions adequately represented in the decisionmaking
process? 3. Is the private delegate's power limited to making
rules, or does the delegate also apply the law to particular
individuals? 4. Does the private delegate have a pecuniary or
other personal interest that may conflict with his or her public
function? 5. Is the private delegate empowered to define criminal
acts or impose criminal sanctions? 6. Is the delegation narrow in
duration, extent, and subject matter? 7. Does the private
delegate possess special qualifications or training for the task
delegated to it? 8. Has the Legislature provided sufficient
standards to guide the private delegate in its work?”).
29 Id. at 471, 475.
30 Id. at 472.
31 Tex. Loc. Gov’t CODE § 143.001(a).
32 972 S.W.2d 729 (Tex. 1998).
33 Brief of the State of Texas as Amicus Curiae in Support of
Respondent at 1-2.
34 972 S.W. 2d at 735 (“The City does not contend that the
Legislature impermissibly delegated authority to hear appeals to
a private decisionmaker. While this broader delegation of
authority was discussed in amici briefs submitted by the cities of
Marshall, Amarillo, and Garland, and suggested at the oral
argument of this case, it was not a part of the City's case either in
the courts below or here.”).
35 City of Houston v. Clark, 197 S.W.3d 314, 324 (Tex. 2006).
36 Id. at 320 (citing Brady v. Fourteenth Court of Appeals, 795 S.
W.2d 712, 715 (Tex. 1990) (“[s]tatutes are given a construction
consistent with constitutional requirements, when possible,
because the legislature is presumed to have intended
compliance with [the constitution]”), and Tex. Gov’t Code §
311.021(1) (“In enacting a statute, it is presumed that . . .
compliance with the constitutions of this state and the United
States is intended . . . .”)).
37 Id. at 318 n.5 (“The Legislature’s use of the phrase ‘arbitration
panel’ is difficult to explain in the context of appeals to individual
independent hearing examiners under Section 143.1016, since
the hearing examiner, not an arbitration panel, provides a final
decision. For purposes of this case, we presume Section
143.1016(j)’s reference to ‘arbitration panel’ includes an
independent hearing examiner.”).
38 Act of May 30, 1983, 68th Leg., R.S., ch. 420, § 9, 1983 Tex.
Gen. Laws 2246, 2267, formerly codified as Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat.
Ann. art. 1269m, § 16c(f).
39 Act of May 29, 1965, 59th Leg., R.S., ch. 689, § 1, 1965 Tex.
Gen. Laws 1593, 1599, formerly Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art.
237, § A(1), (3), now Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 171.088(a)
40 9 U.S.C. § 10(1), (4); Pub. L. No. 80-282, 61 Stat. 669 (1947).
41 Gulf Oil Corp. v. Guidry, 327 S.W.2d 406, 408 (Tex. 1959)
(“[T]he authority of arbitrators is derived from the arbitration
agreement and is limited to a decision of the matters submitted
therein either expressly or by necessary implication.”).
42 CVN Group, Inc. v. Delgado, 95 S.W.3d 234, 238 (Tex. 2002)
(“[W]e have long held that ‘an award of arbitrators upon matters
submitted to them is given the same effect as the judgment of a
court of last resort. All reasonable presumptions are indulged in
favor of the award, and none against it.’”) (quoting City of San
Antonio v. McKenzie Constr. Co., 150 S.W.2d 989, 996 (Tex.
43 Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 143.057(f).
44 See, e.g., id. §§ 143.010 and 143.051-.054.
45 Id. § 143.057(f).
46 Id. § 143.010(g).
47 Cf. § 143.052(f) (“If the department head does not specifically
point out in the written statement the act or acts of the fire fighter
or police officer that allegedly violated the civil service rules, the
commission shall promptly reinstate the person.”); see also §
143.1015(j) (“In any hearing relating to the appeal or review of an
action of the department head that affects a fire fighter or police
officer, the department head shall have the burden of proof. The
department head is required to prove the allegations contained in
the written statement, and the department head is restricted to
the written statement and charges, which may not be amended.”).
48 263 S.W.3d 80, 85 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2006).
49 See City of Weslaco v. Lucio, 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 9540,
2008 WL 5275244 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi-Edinburg Dec. 22,
2008); City of Waco v. Kelley, 226 S.W.3d 672, 675 (Tex. App.–
Waco 2007, pet. granted) (Supreme Court cause number 07-
0485); City of Laredo v. Leal, 161 S.W.3d 558, 563 (Tex. App.–
San Antonio 2004, pet. denied); City of Garland v. Byrd, 97 S.W.
3d 601, 607 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2002, pet. denied); Lindsey v.
Fireman’s & Policeman’s Civil Serv. Comm’n, 980 S.W.2d 233,
236-237 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 1998, pet. denied);
Nuchia v. Tippy, 973 S.W.2d 782, 786 (Tex. App.–Tyler 1998, no
pet.). But see City of Houston v. Clark, 252 S.W.3d 561, 567
(Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, no pet.) (“the district court
and [court of appeal] lack jurisdiction to review the merits of the
hearing examiner’s decision, including issues regarding whether
the hearing examiner abused his discretion and ignored or
misinterpreted controlling law”); Bradford v. Pappillion, 207 S.W.
3d 841, 844 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2006, no pet.)
(“although there is overlap between the scope of the abuse of
authority standard and the common meaning of the language
used in section 143.1016(j), there is little, if any, basis to equate
50 City of Waco, 226 S.W.3d at 675; City of Laredo, 161 S.W.3d
at 563; City of Garland, 97 S.W.3d at 607.
51 Johnson & Higgins of Tex., Inc. v. Kenneco Energy, Inc., 962 S.
W.2d 507, 518 (Tex. 1998).
52 Tex. Loc. Gov’t CODE § 143.1016(j); see also § 143.101(a).
53 Id. § 142.015(a).