Sunday, April 07, 2013

The week ahead in Texas criminal-justice related committtees

There's a full-plate of criminal justice related bills up this week in a variety of committees and complete agendas for individual committees are hyperlinked under each panel's name, but let's run through a small number of highlights that jumped out at me:

Senate Criminal Justice Committee

SB 991 by West would narrow eligibility for medical parole. Important issue; this bill may not be the solution. (Ed. note: corrected from the original; h/t to Brian McGivern).

SB 834 by Estes would make the names of grand jurors permanently secret. The bill analysis says the feds already do it that way, so must be a good idea, huh? What's a secret tribunal or two among friends?

SB 1316 by Whitmire is an excellent, common sense bill to extend the "Romeo and Juliet" defense for indecency with a child to same-sex partners. Good for him.

While we're on this committee, see Jordan Smith's coverage of a good bill related to professionalizing police evidence retention which was referred here and deserves prompt consideration.

Senate Judiciary

SB 915 by West would allow juvenile records to be sealed automatically when the youth reaches 17 as opposed to 19 under current law.

House Criminal Jurisprudence

Rep. Senfronia Thompson's HB 990 creating a sentencing council has already been mentioned.

HB 2653 by Allen and HB 2803 by Toth/Burnam are both modest probation reforms, with the latter including a hammer at the end for fourth-time state-jail drug offenders.

HB 3334 by Hughes would require recording of all witnesses questioned by a grand jury, not just the defendant. Why not?

HB 2988 by Canales is a crackerjack bill related to disclosure of exculpatory evidence by prosecutors, creating a proactive duty to hand over both exculpatory and impeachment evidence. My favorite part:
not later than 30 days before a trial is scheduled to commence for an offense other than a misdemeanor punishable by fine only, the court shall require the attorney representing the state to affirm in open court that the attorney has:
(1)  been diligent in identifying any exculpatory or impeachment evidence that is material to the defendant's guilt or punishment and in the possession of or otherwise known to any peace officer, investigator, or other individual involved in the investigation or prosecution of the case; and
(2)  provided all evidence described by Subdivision (1) to the defendant and the defendant's attorney, regardless of whether the defendant has made a motion under Article 39.14.
House Corrections

Will hear the TDCJ Sunset bill on an otherwise short agenda.

House Homeland Security and Public Safety

HB 3672 by state Rep. Allen Fletcher would require that members of the Public Safety commission to maintain secret-level federal security clearance. Perhaps they should also get shoe-phones like Maxwell Smart.

HB 375 by Ryan Guillen would let the State Board of Veterinary Examiners have its own law enforcement wing with guns and badges, etc.. Perhaps this development will give Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective franchise a shot in the arm, or even spawn a reality TV version.

HB 1656 by Eiland/Zerwas would create a $5 surcharge on moving violations to pay for indigent EMS services.

No comments: