About

Throughout the TCCA web site you will find a wealth of information to assist in your dealings with the Municipal court system in Texas. In addition to general information about the our organization, you will find membership application information, a calendar with seminar & conference schedules, a searchable membership directory, certification information, job postings, and much more. We also provide answers to a number of frequently asked questions and links to other web sites of interest.

TCCA HISTORY

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ESTABLISHED 1972

On March 14, 1972, 13 clerks from the Houston area met in the Deer Park Municipal courtroom and voted to organize a State association that would allow clerks to network and obtain judicial education.   A truly amazing feat if you think about it.  Forty years ago, it was court clerks and their determination to meet with other clerks and educate themselves on court procedures that has evolved this organization into what it is today.  Not much has really changed within the organization.  Today, it is still a fully functional organization due to the hard work and dedication of many clerks from all parts of the State that generously give their time and energy in addition to their regular duties as a court clerk.  The purpose of the association hasn’t changed either.  TCCA’s primary focus remains the same – to enhance the professionalism of court clerks and provide quality judicial education and networking for clerks across the State.  As with any historical milestone, it is important to recognize how TCCA began from a vision of a lady determined to do the tasks accurately and to make it a Profession and not just a job.  That lady was Lorna Armour Nelson Chivers, better known as Lorna Nelson.

Ms. Lorna was born in Junee, New South Wales, Australia on October 12, 1926.  She met and married 1st Lt. John Nelson during World War II while he was fighting in the Pacific.  In 1945, Ms. Lorna emigrated to the United States.  John and Lorna had 5 children.  In 1965, John passed away after suffering a heart attack. 

In 1968, Ms. Lorna had to go to work to support her family.  She was hired as the Municipal Court Clerk for the City of Deer Park with no legal or court experience, only a desire to learn all she could to better herself.   In that desire, Ms. Lorna began reading law books, studying procedures used in higher courts and attended seminars offered by the American Bar Association.    Soon other clerks began calling her to ask questions such as how to word a complaint; make entries in the docket book; prepare warrants, capias’, subpoenas; or just to ask basic questions about the daily operations of the Court. 

Deer Park Judge, J.B. Masterson, suggested to Ms. Lorna that the clerks in the area meet in their courtroom after work in the evening to discuss how to proceed with a unified plan on procedures for municipal courts.  This meeting took place on March 14, 1972 and because there was such interest and concern among the clerks, they voted to form an association.  It was at this meeting that they elected officers and asked Ms. Lorna to write up a set of proposed bylaws.  The officers elected were – Lorna Nelson (Deer Park) – President; Ruby Bryant (Galena Park) – Vice President; Jim Pittman (Houston) – Treasurer; and Joyce Sease (LaPorte) – Secretary. 

(Left to Right): Ruby Bryant, Lorna Nelson, James Pitman, & Joyce Sease)

On April 10, 1972 with the help of Pasadena Attorney Robert Montgomery, they applied for incorporation as a non-profit organization.  Houston Municipal Court Judge, Raymond Judice, invited the group to hold a workshop on June 29th to discuss warrants, probable cause, general procedures and legalities of the Court.  It was at this workshop that the group voted to hold a seminar.  Membership dues were also set at $5.00 per year.  The Treasurer, Jim Pittman, reported a present balance of $170.00.  Ms. Lorna also reported receiving letters from other clerks as far away as Amarillo requesting information and membership applications.   

Meetings were held every month so that plans could be made for their first seminar.  It was at these meetings that the group decided to divide the State into chapters to better serve clerks in their local regions.   Official TCCA stationary and a newsletter, The Scribe, was designed to keep members informed of TCCA business.  Standing committees for Bylaws, Nominations, Membership, and Budget and Finance were also established.   A $50.00 registration fee was implemented for those clerks attending the seminar.  In addition, the group voted to name Judge Masterson, Judge Judice, and Attorney Robert Montgomery as the first Honorary Members of the association. 

The first annual seminar was held September 21-23, 1972 at the Rice Hotel in Houston.  Thirty-four clerks from across the State were present.  Governor Preston Smith and Assistant Attorney General Tom Bullington attended and spoke at the Opening Session.   Ray Sunday, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, was also a guest speaker.  Classes were taught on Small Claims and Civil Courts; Data Processing; Complaints; and the need for Judiciary and Clerical Sections.   Annual seminars, known today as the Annual Conference, have been held every year since with guest appearances by Texas Governors, Attorney Generals, State Congressmen, and Texas Supreme Court Justices just to name a few.  

  On October 7, 1992, TCCA became the 20th Affiliate Member of TML.  Hilda Phariss-Cuthbertson of Bryan was the first member to represent TCCA on the TML Board of Directors.  In 1996, TCCA partnered with the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center , Texas Municipal Courts Association and Texas State University to create an educational development program.  The Municipal Court Clerk Certification Program was developed to provide professional development and educational growth to Court staff in Municipal and Justice Courts.  The program is comprised of three levels.  Participants may achieve certification upon successful completion of each of the three levels earning the titles of Certified Court Clerk I, Certified Court Clerk II and Certified Municipal Court Clerk.  Currently there are 901 clerks certified in the State.  Of that number, 38 active clerks are Certified Municipal Court Clerks, 348 are certified at Level II and 496 are certified at Level I. 

TCCA has experienced great growth over the past 4 decades.  Today, the association averages 800 plus members each year who pay a $40 membership fee.   TCCA’s assets currently total just over $230,000.00.  Today’s annual  conferences have an average of 165 clerks attending and hosts a vendor exhibit with 35 – 40 vendors demonstrating goods and services utilized by courts.  Members pay a $250 registration fee to attend the conference.    In addition, TCCA offers an average of 60 hours of education each year on a vast array of topics at both the State and Chapter level. 

TCCA would not be as successful if it weren’t for the sheer dedication and hard work of its past and present members.  We are very fortunate to work in a field with colleagues who strive to be the very best at what we do and who are always willing to assist a fellow clerk in need.  On behalf of the TCCA Board and Current TCCA Members, we honor those who in 1972 had a vision of establishing an organization for the benefit of court clerks across the State and making it a legal profession and not ‘just a job’.