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No significant fiscal implication to the State.
Local Government Impact
The fiscal implications of the bill for local governments are
indeterminate. The Office of Court Administration assumes most
statutory county courts' jurisdiction is capped at $200,000 and would
not be impacted by the bill. However, there may be some fiscal impact
to counties related to additional juror pay that would vary depending on
the number of civil jury trials where the amount in controversy exceeds
$200,000 in counties where the statutory county courts' jurisdiction
exceeds $200,000. In addition, there is likely to be some fiscal impact
to counties that would need to modify courtroom space to accommodate
changes required by the bill since most statutory county courts have
space for only 6-8 jurors.
SB 824 was amended to stipulate that a jury be composed of 12 members unless both parties agree to 6 members.
SB 824 would amend Government Code to add a provision that a jury be composed of 12 members. The procedures for jury selection and jury panels would be in the same in county district courts when the amount in controversy is $200,000 or more.
SB 824 was amended with minor changes. We continue to support this bill in the second chamber. The second chamber sponsor is Representative Travis Clardy.
Original chamber recommendation:
Currently, Texas only has six person juries for county court civil cases, in contrast to cases held in state district courts which have twelve person juries. The issue that the bill addresses is that fourteen counties give their courts full concurrent jurisdiction in civil matters with no monetary limit, which means complex cases can be tried by six person juries. Attorneys may 'shop' around since six person juries are weaker. According to accepted research, twelve person juries are better overall for rendering a decision.
SB 824 would affirm the principle of limited government, since it addresses a legitimate role of government and would fix a crack in the justice system that could result in unjust court decisions, therefore we support this legislation.