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Relating to the allocation of costs and attorney's fees incurred by a Court of Inquiry.
Depending upon the number of Courts of Inquiry conducted by counties, there could be an indeterminate but likely insignificant negative fiscal impact to the state.
HB 184 would clarify the governmental body responsible for the costs and attorney’s fees incurred by a Court of Inquiry. Specifically, if an affidavit for a Court of Inquiry was filed in a county, than that county is responsible for the attorney’s fees. The county that the Court of Inquiry is held is also responsible for the costs and attorney’s fees. However, in all situations, the state is responsible for attorney’s fees if the subject of the Court of Inquiry was an employee of the state at the time of the alleged offense.
Lastly, if the Attorney General of Texas requests a hold on the Court of Inquiry, then his or her office shoulders the costs attributed to the county.
The Senate committee did not make any changes to the House version of this legislation.
Senate chamber sponsor: Schwertner
First chamber analysis:
A Court of Inquiry occurs at the request of a district judge if he or she believes there is probable cause that state laws may have been broken in a prior opinion or that a person may have been wrongfully convicted in a prior opinion. In other words, the Court of Inquiry serves as a review of a prior case that is in question. If it finds that a crime was committed or a person was wrongfully convicted in a prior case, then it refers those findings to a higher court for prosecution.
HB 184 would make the state liable for any attorney’s fees or court costs associated with a Court of Inquiry for a person who was a state employee at the time the alleged offense occurred. Counties should not be responsible for the costs arising from a state employee. We support this bill because it increases the responsibility of the state for possible wrongful acts committed by its employees and places the liability at the proper level of government.