MUNICIPAL COURTS

H.B. 27 (Guillen/Ellis) – Municipal Court:   requires a municipal court judge to allow a defendant who the judge determines is unable to immediately pay the fine and costs assessed by the court to pay the fine and costs in specified portions at designated intervals.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 350 (Walle/Van de Putte) – Juvenile Defendants:  authorizes a judge to discharge all or part of the fine or costs assessed against a juvenile defendant for a class C misdemeanor committed at a primary or secondary school at which the defendant was enrolled at the time of the offense by performing community service for a governmental entity or certain types of nonprofit organizations or by attending a tutoring program that is satisfactory to the court, with certain restrictions on the amount of hours that may be required weekly and how much of the monetary fine can be replaced with service hours. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 961 (S. Turner/Hinojosa) – Juvenile Defendants:  makes all records relating to a child who is convicted of and has satisfied the judgment for a fine-only misdemeanor offense (other than a traffic offense) confidential and open to inspection only by certain family members or members of the judiciary.  (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 984 (Truitt/Harris) – Municipal Court: authorizes a city with a non-record municipal court to enter into an agreement with a contiguous city or a city with boundaries that are within one-half-mile of the city to establish concurrent and original jurisdiction of the municipal courts in both cities for most types of cases heard by municipal courts.   (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 1559 (S. Davis/Huffman) – Records Retention: provides that: (1) a court shall not destroy a court document filed with, presented to, or produced by the court before 1951; and (2) the  Texas State Library and Archives Commission may create rules for the retention of such documents. (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 1573 (Gallego/Carona) – Municipal Court:  among other things, requires that the clerk of a municipal court that does not provide online Internet access to the court’s criminal case records post in a designated public place in the courthouse notice of a prospective criminal court docket setting as soon as the court notifies the clerk of the setting. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 1964 (Villareal/Van de Putte) – Juvenile Defendants:  this bill:  (1) authorizes a judge to discharge all or part of the fine or costs assessed against a juvenile defendant for a class C misdemeanor by performing community service for a governmental entity or certain types of nonprofit organizations, with certain restrictions on the amount of hours that may be required weekly and how much of the monetary fine can be replaced with service hours; and (2) limits the liability of the court with regard to any damages caused or sustained in the course of completing the assigned work.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

H.B. 2949 (Cook/Eltife) – Collection Improvement Program: provides for: (1) a 180-day grace period for a city to come back into compliance if the city is not in compliance with state fee reporting and remitting rules under the state’s Collection Improvement Program, which applies only to cities with a population of 100,000 or greater; and (2) certain other, minor changes to the program.

H.B. 3385 (Madden) – Juvenile Offenders: requires school districts and other agencies and courts that deal with juveniles and juvenile offenders to share more records with other agencies and courts that deal with juveniles and juvenile offenders and creates processes for the exchange of confidential information about juveniles among agencies that deal with juveniles. (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 3475 (Gallego/West) – Municipal Judges:  this bill: (1) creates a process for a motion for recusal or disqualification of a municipal judge in a specific case; and (2) requires the city secretary of a city with a municipal court to notify the Texas Judicial Council of the name of each person who is elected or appointed to or vacates the office of mayor, municipal court judge, or clerk of a municipal court, within thirty days of the person’s election, appointment, or vacancy from office.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 61 (Zaffirini/Walle) – Juvenile Case Managers:  authorizes the city’s judge or governing body to pay the salary and benefits of a juvenile case manager and costs of training, travel, office supplies, and other necessary expenses relating to the position from the juvenile case manager fund, and requires the city’s governing body to adopt and the court to implement reasonable rules for juvenile case managers that include a code of ethics, training, and other provisions. (Effective immediately.)

S.B. 209 (Zaffirini/Walle) – Juvenile Case Managers:  provides that:  (1) a city, rather than solely a municipal court, may employ a juvenile case manager; (2) a juvenile case manager shall give priority to truancy cases; (3) a juvenile case manager shall timely report to a full-time judge assigned to a case managed by a juvenile case manager any information or recommendations relevant to assisting the judge in making decisions that are in the best interest of the child; (4) a full time judge must be assigned to a case that is being supervised by a juvenile case manager to consult with the manager regarding the child’s home environment, developmental, psychological and educational status, and previous interactions with the justice system.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 480 (Hegar/Gallego) – Municipal Court: this bill: (1) creates a process for a motion for recusal or disqualification of a municipal judge in a specific case; and (2) requires the city secretary of a city with a municipal court to notify the Texas Judicial Council of the name of each person who is elected or appointed to or vacates the office of mayor, municipal court judge, or clerk of a municipal court, within thirty days of the person’s election, appointment, or vacancy from office; and (3) authorizes an individual to appeal a case from a municipal court of record to the court of appeals if, among other things, the sole issue is the constitutionality of the statue or ordinance on which a conviction is based.  (Effective immediately.)

S.B. 519 (Hegar/Hartnett) – Municipal Court: extends the period, after the rendition of judgment and sentence in municipal court, during which a motion for new trial must be made from one day to five days. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 578 (Fraser/Hartnett) – Municipal Court:  creates a process for the testimony of a child in any case where the child is not the defendant. (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 1241 (West/J. Jackson) – Juvenile Offenders: authorizes a municipal court exercising jurisdiction over a juvenile in a truancy case to access confidential information from the Department of Public Safety’s juvenile justice information system.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 1489 (Whitmire/Madden) – Truancy:  this bill:  (1) restricts the age of children that a juvenile court may send to another court, including a municipal court, to 12 years of age or older; (2) requires that a municipal court dismiss the complaint against an individual alleging that the individual failed to attend school if the court finds that the individual has complied with the conditions imposed by the court or presents proof that the individual has obtained a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate; (3) authorizes a municipal court to waive or reduce a fee or court cost imposed for failure to attend school if the court finds that payment of the fee or court cost would cause financial hardship; (4) requires a municipal court to expunge an individual’s conviction for failure to attend school if the court finds that the individual has complied with the conditions imposed by the court or presents proof that the individual has obtained a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate before the individual’s 21st birthday; (5) bars a city without a juvenile case manager from collecting a juvenile case manager fee; (6) requires school districts to create truancy prevention measures in order to minimize filings in municipal court for failure to attend school and requires a peace officer acting as an attendance officer to utilize them; and (7) authorizes the Department of Public Safety to share confidential information contained in the juvenile justice information system with municipal courts.  (Effective September 1, 2011.)

S.B. 1521 (Uresti/Gallego) – Municipal Court Building Security Fund: authorizes the expenditure of funds from a city’s municipal court building security fund on warrant officers and related equipment. (Effective immediately.)


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Texas Municipal League.

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