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FACTS: The relator was indicted for three counts of bribery in Cause No. 2003-CR-1335-D in the 103rd District Court of Cameron County. At the relator’s request, the presiding judge of the 103rd, Judge Menton Murray, recused himself. Thereafter, the case was referred to Judge Hester, presiding administrative judge of the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region. Judge Hester requested Judge David Peeples, presiding judge of the Fourth Administrative Judicial Region, to assign a judge to preside over relator’s case. Peeples assigned Judge Mark Luitjen of the 144th District Court to preside over the case. On Jan. 9, 2004, the relator filed a petition for writ of mandamus in which he requested this court to demand that the respondent, Judge Darrell Hester, presiding judge of the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region, first determine the existence of a “need” to assign a judge from outside the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region before assigning a judge from outside the region to hear the relator’s case. The relator also filed a motion for emergency relief requesting a stay of all proceedings in Cause No. 2003-CR-1335-D in the 103rd District Court of Cameron County. On Jan. 9, 2004, this court granted relator’s motion for emergency relief and stayed all proceedings in Cause No. 2003-CR-1335-D. HOLDING: Dismissed for want of jurisdiction. The court denies the relator’s and the state’s motions for sanctions. The state argues that this court lacks jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus against a regional administrative judge. In support of its position, the state cites In Re: Hettler, 110 S.W.3d 152 (Tex. App. – Amarillo 2003, orig. proceeding). In Hettler, the relators sought mandamus relief to compel the presiding administrative judge of the Ninth Judicial District to comply with his obligation to hold a hearing on a motion to disqualify a district judge. The Hettler court held it had no jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus against any official not prescribed by statute. The court reasoned that even though the judge was a “district judge” within its district, the court “must consider the capacity in which the respondent is functioning as well as the respondent’s title.” The court noted that the relief sought was against the judge “in his capacity as the presiding judge of an administrative judicial region, not simply in his capacity as a district judge.” The Hettler court further noted that regional administrative judges are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate and have different qualifications and duties than district judges. The court pointed out that prior to 1995, courts of appeals had no jurisdiction to mandamus district judges acting as magistrates. The Hettler court reasoned that “just as it was necessary for the legislature in 1995 to give courts of appeals the specific power to issue writs of mandamus against district judges acting in the capacity of magistrate, we find that a specific grant of such authority would be required with respect to judges acting in the capacity of regional presiding judge.” The court concludes that the relator has admitted that he lacks a “clear right” to compel Judge Hester to establish the existence of a “need” before assigning a judge outside the district. By conceding that there is no “binding legal authority” on this issue and that there is “ambiguity” as to the powers and duties of a regional administrative judge, relator has admitted the absence of a “clear right” to the relief sought. The court agrees with the reasoning of In Re: Hettler, 110 S.W.3d 152 (Tex. App. – Amarillo 2003, orig. proceeding). The court holds that it lacks jurisdiction to consider the relator’s petition for writ of mandamus against Judge Hester in his capacity as regional presiding judge. OPINION: Linda Reyna Yanez, J.; Yanez, Rodriguez and Garza, JJ.

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