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Relating to the operation and administration of and practice and procedure related to proceedings in the judicial branch of state government.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB 3774, Committee Report 2nd House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($2,523,000) through the biennium ending August 31, 2023.
A state agency subject to this Act is required to implement a provision of this Act only if the legislature appropriates money specifically for that purpose. If the legislature does not appropriate money specifically for that purpose, the agency may, but is not required to, implement a provision of this Act using other appropriations available for that purpose.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
HB 3774 would make a significant number of changes to the state judicial system and update various laws regarding the judicial system. The major provisions, but not an exhaustive list, are listed below.
HB 3774 would create new courts of various types. The jurisdiction of some of these courts over certain matters would be expanded or limited. Counties would be permitted to create regional specialty court programs to hear criminal cases, with the presiding judge or magistrate appointed by the local judges of each participating county.
HB 3774 would expand the electronic filing system for judicial proceedings. The clerk of a court transferring a case to another court would have to send the case’s documents using the electronic filing system. If enacted, an applicant for a writ of habeas corpus would be permitted to send a copy of their application to the state attorney through electronic means.
HB 3774 would create new rules and procedures for court reporters. Court reporters would become able to be appointed to serve more than one court and administer oaths to witnesses without being in the same location as them in certain circumstances. If enacted, the Office of Court Administration would be required to develop a model agreement for multiple counties employing a single court reporter.
HB 3774 would make changes to the protective order registry maintained by the Office of Court Administration. Protective orders issued to prevent sexual assault, stalking, or trafficking would have to be added to the registry. If enacted, the Office would have to remove all existing vacated orders from the registry, and any future vacated orders would have to be removed.
Lastly, HB 3774 would make certain miscellaneous changes to laws regarding courts. It would replace the limit of $3 per meal when a district court provides jurors in a civil case with meals during deliberation with any reasonable amount decided upon by the judge. It would also establish rules for the appointment of a judge over a regional specialty court program. If enacted, the Texas Forensic Science Commission would be required to adopt a code of professional responsibility for all persons and facilities they regulate. The Commission would be permitted to fund the training of forensic analysts.
Texas Action supports HB 3774 because, on balance, its changes to the judicial system would advance individual liberty and limited government. The creation of new courts to adjust to a growing population would help clear backlogs and facilitate the right to speedy adjudication for many Texans.