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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 SB 1530, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($2,802,013) through the biennium ending August 31, 2023.
The Office of Court Administration 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.
SB 1530 would make a significant number of changes to the state judicial system and update various laws regarding the judicial system. Some major provisions, but not an exhaustive list of the bills provisions, are enumerated below.
SB 1530 would create new courts of various types. It would create the 474th, 475th, 478th, 480th, 481st, 482nd, 483rd, and 484th judicial district courts, with jurisdiction over different counties, and a new criminal judicial district in Tarrant County. It would create a new probate court in Denton County, create new county courts at law in Denton, McLennan, Montgomery, San Patricio, and Williamson counties, and create a new county criminal court in Tarrant County. It would also create a magistrate court in Brazoria County with jurisdiction over criminal cases. The jurisdiction of some of these courts over certain matters would be expanded or limited.
SB 1530 would expand the electronic filing system for judicial proceedings. It would permit the Office of Court Administration to allow public access to the state court document database and charge a reasonable fee for any optional features. The clerk of a court transferring a case to another court would have to send the case’s documents using the electronic filing system. They would have to include a transfer certificate and index of transferred documents required under rules adopted by the Office of Court Administration. If enacted, an applicant for a writ of habeas corpus would be required to send a copy of their application to the state attorney through electronic means.
The bill would change certain laws regarding specialty court programs. It would permit a court to transfer a defendant into a veterans treatment court program in a county adjacent to the county in which they work or reside if their county does not have such a program. Such programs would also be able to transfer jurisdiction over a defendant to a program in a county adjacent to the county in which the defendant works or resides. Counties would be able 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.
SB 1530 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, SB 1530 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. The Office of Court Administration would be required to publish citations of receivership on their website. If enacted, a judge of a justice or municipal court would be prohibited from accepting a plea of guilty or no contest unless it appears that the plea is voluntary and the defendant is mentally competent. SB 1530 would also require the Texas Forensic Science Commission to adopt a code of professional responsibility applicable to all persons and facilities they regulate.
Texas Action supports SB 1530 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.