|State of the Judiciary|
Feb. 11, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson delivered the
biennial State of the Judiciary address before a joint session of the House and
Senate. Jefferson focused on transparency,
access to justice, and judicial selection.
justice pointed to live webcasts of the Supreme Court's oral arguments and new
technologies to increase court efficiency as part of the court's efforts to promote
transparency in the judiciary.
updated the Legislature on several access to justice initiatives:
The Permanent Commission on Children, Youth, and Families distributed
more than $1.4 million in grants to expand judicial and legal training throughout
the state during its first year.
The Task Force to Ensure Judicial
Readiness in Times of Emergency is developing response plans for adoption by individual
courts to ensure that courts can continue to operate in the event of hurricanes,
pandemics, violence, terrorism, or computer threats.
Force on Indigent Defense and the Access to Justice Commission are working to
ensure access to justice for low-income Texans in criminal and civil matters.
The chief justice noted significant advancements by the Court of Criminal
Appeals Justice Inegrity Unit and reiterated his support for the creation of a
commission to study wrongful convictions.
spoke at length about the public's perception of bias in the judiciary. He expressed
concern about the influence of money in judicial elections and advocated that
the current system for electing judges be replaced by a merit selection system.
"If the public believes that judges are biased toward contributors, then confidence
in the courts will suffer," he said. "The State of the Judiciary will be made
stronger if we appoint our judges based on merit and hold them accountable in retention elections."
To read the full text of the State of the Judiciary
address, click here.
Thursday, Feb. 12, Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) announced the appointment
of House committees. There are 34 standing committees, compared with 40 during
the previous legislative session. A few statistics about the committees are as follows:
Republicans will chair 18 committees; Democrats will chair 16.
Fifteen of the 34 committee chairs
have not previously chaired a standing committee.
chairs are African American, four are Hispanic, and seven are women.
Twenty-three of the 34 chairs represent urban districts; 11 chairs represent
In addition, the House created
a Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding.
view a complete list of House committees, click here.
|Upcoming CLE Webcast|
will present a webcast, "The Texas Legislative Process: What Every Lawyer Should
Know," on Thursday, Feb. 19, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Topics include a review of
the legislative process, Texas ethics law, and a panel discussion on key issues
for the 81st Legislature. Participants can earn up to two hours of MCLE credit.
To register, click here.
|State Bar Legislative Program|
reported in previous issues of the Friday Update, a chart detailing the State
Bar's 2009 legislative program is available here. Bill numbers have been added for the proposals that have now been filed as bills.
its Jan. 30 meeting in Waco, the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors added two
proposals. The board passed a resolution in support of increased judicial
compensation and voted to support a bill to create an Office of Capital Writs.
related to all proposals will be monitored and updated throughout the session.