Thursday, January 31, 2013

Texas House plans to rewrite Code of Criminal Procedure, appoints committees

Texas House Committee assignments came out this morning. See the criminal-justice related committee memberships listed below the jump. The big news on the criminal-justice front, though, was the creation of a Select Committee on Criminal Procedure Reform, a five-member committee (see here, p. 43) whose charge reads: "The Code of Criminal Procedure ... has not been rewritten since 1965. As a result, it has become overcrowded, disorganized and difficult to navigate, such that there is a pressing need to consider rewriting and reorganizing it. Therefore the select committee shall study and make recommendations regarding the reorganization and revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure." Presumably this rewriting will take place in the interim and result in recommendations to the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015. Here's its membership:

Select Committee on Criminal Procedure Reform
Chair: Debbie Riddle
Stefani Carter
Abel Herrero
Joseph Moody
Tan Parker

And here are the membership lists for the three main standing committees related  to criminal justice topics:

Chair: Tan Parker (see his press release)
Vice Chair: James White
Alma Allen
Debbie Riddle
Toni Rose
J.D. Sheffield
Steve Toth

Chairman Parker is new to the job but was on the Corrections Committee last session.

Criminal Jurisprudence
Chair: Abel Herrero
Vice Chair: Stefani Carter
Joe Moody
Lon Burnam
Bryan Hughes
Jeff Leach
Matt Schaefer
Steve Toth

Vice Chair Stefani Carter is the only member who was on the committee last session, though Joe Moody was on the committee in 2009. And finally, Homeland Security and Public Safety has a new chair:

Homeland Security and Public Safety
Chair: Joe Pickett
Vice Chair: Allen Fletcher
Tony Dale
George Lavender
Phillip Cortez
Dan Flynn
Tim Kleinschmidt
Kenneth Sheets
Ron Simmons

See the complete lists by committee and by member. Here we go, folks.


WilCo Gal said...

Is this a typo? Wasn't the Code of Criminal Procedure rewritten in 1995 under Gov. Bush? I believe John Bradley served on this committee.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

That was the Penal Code, not the CCP, you're thinking of, which was actually in '93 under Ann Richards, though yes, John Bradley was a staffer for the entity you're thinking of.

Wilco Gal said...

Check this out from former DA Bradley. Says he worked on the committee to re-write CCP in 1996. What happened with this committee?

"Mr. Bradley also has worked for the Texas Legislature. He helped rewrite the Penal Code in 1993 as a staff member for the Punishment Standards Commission and subsequently served as general counsel for the Senate Criminal Justice Committee under the direction of Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston). In 1996, he served on then Governor George W. Bush’s Committee to Rewrite the Code of Criminal Procedure. He remains active in the legislative process."

Anonymous said...

Tan Parkers recklessness attempt to push though worthless criminal law bills in past sessions just to make a name for himself is down right scary. Thank God his bills never saw the light of day!! Now he heads up a committee chair of Criminal Procedure is a serious concern for the people of Texas.
Time again to be at the capitol to stand up to this joker.

Shannon Edmonds said...

FYI, the CCP was re-written under Governor Bush by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers. However, there was no legislative interest in the bill and it never passed. In fact, I'm not sure it was ever even filed.


Gritsforbreakfast said...

Wow, I'd completely forgotten that bit of historical flotsam. Thanks Shannon.

BTW, do you know what this is about? Is it a way to kick discovery reform down the road? What's up?

wow said...

Wow this appeared out of nowhere!

Anybody hear of discussions that may give a hint of what the focus will be in the "re-write."

Unknown said...

Grits, for the past few years TAPEIT (Tx Assoc of Property & Evidence Inventory Technicians) have been pursuing a re-write of all statutes relating to evidence. The very reasons that have been cited for a re-write of the CCP, we have been arguing for evidence laws. Our issue with evidence laws is that there are several areas we have to research to find the applicable statute and sometimes, they are found in the most unusual places. For example, to find out how to dispose of abandoned property, you need to look in Chapter 18 titled "Search Warrants". Abandoned property has NOTHING to do with search warrants.

Sen. West is sponsoring our proposed bill. I don't know if our pursuit had anything to do with the CCP re-write, but it does make one go...hmmmmm!

Anonymous said...

I and all Texans should be disappointed that Senator John Whitmire is not involved a committee member. His direction, guidance and efforts in the past have resulted in significant and effective criminal justice reform for Texas. I would hope he is very involved in this effort.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Whitmire is in the Senate, 7:38. But it is noteworthy that this is a House Select Committee, not a JOINT Select Committee. It takes two chambers to tango and this is sort of thing that, if they really wanted to pass it, you'd think they'd need folks on the Senate side involved who'll eventually have to agree.

Shannon Edmonds said...

"It takes two chambers to tango and this is sort of thing that, if they really wanted to pass it, you'd think they'd need folks on the Senate side involved who'll eventually have to agree."

You said it, not me. ;)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

It's true, Shannon, you've been around long enough to know it.

One of my all-time favorite political anecdotes applies here: The late, long-time Democratic US House Speaker Tip O'Neill supposedly would meet personally with all the incoming freshmen Democrats when they first got to Washington. One excited Congressman, the story goes, came to his introductory meeting with O'Neill declaring, "I'm here to fight, sir, I'm ready to stand by your side and do battle." O'Neill leaned back and asked, "And who do you think you'll be fighting, son?" To which the freshman replied, "why the Republicans sir, of course." According to legend, O'Neill sighed, shook his head, and replied, "No, son, the Republicans are the opposition. The Senate is the enemy."

john said...

It just seems it's always made to punish and rob the people.
Since the Transportation Code is specific, they needed the Admin Code to have undefined & subjective "Moving Violations," which are then misapplied to us all. How can such a thing occur? Surely we know from the feds that making the paperwork larger forever just makes it hard to do a good job. So the job becomes REMAKING the paper, or rebuilding freeway underpasses as overpasses. SOMEBODY gets paid.
What we need is laws that would hold the government to the Constitution, what a concept. Oh, but we can't, because those in power write the laws to protect themselves.
You insiders may not see it, but you're entrapped, too.

Oh ratsa, it's captcha

Skifool said...

Sounds like a train wreck to me. Any serious attempt at a CCP rewrite should have begun a year ago. Just one more Christmas tree if it ever gets that far. The Senate will box their ears, as usual.

Really said...

Ha! I thought prosecutors were already re-writing the ccp on a daily basis.

dfisher said...


Thanks for posting this, and sorry to be so late in discovering it.

This last summer I was contacted by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee about the medical examiner issue and CCP statute. What I was told was the capitol lawyers reviewed the issue I've been raising and agreed with me, that all the ME's offices in TX were unconstitutional in their operation. I was also told a bill would be introduced to fix the ME problem, yet to date I haven't seen any, but this looks like a back-door move to me.

I will be contacting this committee shortly.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, the CoCP is a joke. They could re-write it in crayon and it'd still be one, because no one has to follow it.

Why a joke? Just one example out of thousands - Because former Harris County ADA Mr. Casey J. O'Brien (jigmeister) didn't. The 'Fake' Defense Team didn't. The senile Judge didn't. Those that became aware of it (State Bar, innocence projects, Senators, State Reps., Mayors, Governors, TBP&P, Presidents) all looked the other way.

But, before someone says it, I'll say it. It's a start in the right direction and I'll look forward to this new version and hopefully they'll include a Rule forcing it to followed. Thanks.