Searching around a bit one notices in particular how few jury trials occur given the large volume of cases in Texas' large counties. In Harris County, for example, 636 felony cases went to verdict in 2001 out of about 29,000 convictions. In Dallas County defendants were twice as likely to see a jury: That same year they saw 749 jury verdicts out of about 17,348 convictions.
Statewide, less than 1% of all criminal convictions in Texas result from jury trials. So apparently you're a lot more likely to get a jury trial in Dallas County (>4%) than elsewhere, or at least you were five years ago. I wonder if that's a function of Dallas having a public defender office? Maybe that's why defendants' right to a jury trial is more commonly exercised there?
What else do you think might explain the difference? What's your opinion? For that matter, are more or fewer jury trials a good or a bad thing, and why?
UPDATE: See the response from The Wretched of the Earth, who opines that the Dallas PDs office
definitely has something to do with it. While some court-appointed attorneys surely do a great job on their cases, the motivation to just plea out an appointed case rather than take it to trial is undeniable. Especially in felony trials, court-appointed attorneys often get around $500 for each day of trial while the cost of going to trial is much more. It's a time-consuming, physically draining, and expensive ordeal. Sadly, far too many appointed attorneys avoid it by urging all their clients to take a deal rather than go to trial. That's the big advantage a public defender has on a court-appointed free world attorney - there's no financial incentive to plea.