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SB 135 would remove the practice of using jury commissioners to select members of a grand jury and assigns only the district judge to appoint prospective grand jurors. Under current law a jury commissioner in Texas serves for $10 a day and has the responsibility of choosing the prospective grand jurors. This bill would also order the court to consider the county’s demographics in order to select jurors. However, this bill would also gives the court additional authority in dismissing grand jurors at their own discretion.
No changes have been made to this bill in House committee. The second chamber sponsor is Rep. Harold Dutton.
First chamber recommendation:
SB 135 as originally filed simply removed the outdated practice of jury commissioners. We support the legislature's effort to eliminate unnecessary government positions. The committee substitute added a requirement that the judge consider the county’s demographics in selecting jurors. Because this legislation instructs the judge to consider the demographic makeup of the county but does not set forth requirements for the judge on how to apply that consideration we do not view this as excessive state control of local government. Because this legislation removes an outdated and unnecessary position from the process of seating a grand jury we support this bill as a promotion of limited government.