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Marriage Count Synopsis and Analysis

As an elected official, Judge Canales’ primary role is to manage and

attend to cases set in County Court at Law #2. He is under no obligation to
perform marriages. However, when he chooses to perform a marriage during
the work week between 8 and 5 and on county property, his current charged
rate of $40 goes directly to him, with no benefit to the county. In 2008 and
2009, Judge Canales performed over 2300 marriages between 8 and 5 during
the work week using county resources. By way of comparison, there were
only a handful of marriages individually conducted by other county court
judges during the same time frame. A Bexar County Planning and Resources
Department analysis of the county courts revealed that Judge Canales had
the largest docket, the oldest docket, the slowest disposition rate, and the
highest cost to taxpayers per case disposed than all of the eight other county
court judges with similar dockets.
The Bexar County Clerks’ Office maintains a website that allows
anyone to search and view every marriage certificate issued and recorded
each year. A search may be conducted by bride or groom name or by date.
Once a date is entered in the search parameters, an actual scanned image of
each certificate may be viewed by clicking on “view image.” Each
certificate shows the date it was issued, the date and by whom the marriage
was performed, and the date the certificate was recorded. The Bexar County
Clerks’ Office is open from 8 to 5 weekdays, and Judge Canales’ chambers
are not accessible to the public before 8 am. It therefore follows that if a
certificate shows the same performance and recordation date, then the
marriage had to have been performed between the hours of 8 and 5. The
2008 and 2009 tallies specifically exclude weekend or holiday ceremonies,
and any certificates that could have arguably been performed after 5 pm. If
a certificate showed a recordation date subsequent to the date the marriage
was performed, then the possibility existed that the ceremony was performed
after 5 pm and was not included in the marriage count.
There are roughly 249 government workdays in a year excluding
weekends and holidays. Judge Canales’ approximate annual salary is
$135,000.00, which equates to $67 an hour ($135,000 divided by 1992 work
hours (249 days at 8 hours a day).
There were over 30 days in 2008 where Judge Canales conducted 10
marriages or more in a single day, with a high of 18 in 2008, and two days in
2009 where he conducted 22 in a day. Each ceremony necessarily takes
time. A conservative assumption would be 15 minutes to shuffle the
participants and attendees into his chambers, conduct the ceremony, allow
for pictures or reflection, and shuffle the group or couple out. It also takes
time to return the certificate to the Clerks’ Office, a task that is mandated to
be performed by the officiant or assistants, not the couple.
Twenty three hundred marriages performed in the last two years at 15
minutes apiece would take 575 hours to complete. At $67 per hour, Judge
Canales has wasted over $38,000 in taxpayer time/money while potentially
earning $92,000 in added personal income. The evidence supports the fact
that these 2300 marriages were performed during work hours. Only Judge
Canales can divulge how many, if any, were performed during the lunch
hour. Without this information, the above calculations can only assume that
the marriages were not performed during the lunch hour.