Registration for TJCTC's summer Legislative Updates is open now. With 7 locations around the state, our Legislative Updates will provide all the information that your Court or Constable office needs concerning new legislation. Click here for more information!
A federal judge has issued an order finding that the Harris County bail system is unconstitutional and that many defendants are being detained because they are unable to afford bail. You can read a copy of the opinion here. Full analysis of this opinion will be found in our Summer 2017 newsletter released later this month.
For now, it is imperative to remember that ability to pay is a factor which must be considered each and every time you are setting bail. It is strongly encouraged to consider personal bonds, which can include conditions of release, especially for nonviolent offenders. Also, be aware that keeping someone detained in jail because of their indigency violates that defendant’s rights, and opens up your county to liability.
Last session, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1369, which mandates the reporting of appointments of attorneys ad litem, guardians, guardians ad litem, mediators and competency evaluators in any type of case (with some exclusions). Additionally, all payments received for those appointments must be reported.
Although many justice courts will have appointments of a guardian ad litem or attorney in truancy cases, many courts will have no activity to report. However, every court in the state must report each month, whether or not the court has any reportable activity. Reporting requirements mandated by SB 1369 go into effect September 1, 2016. The first report is due by October 15, 2016.
To download TJCTC's "Truancy - Approval of Payment for Attorney or Guardian form," click here. Also, a powerpoint created by OCA outlining this information and instructions for reporting may be found at OCA's website.
On August 31, the Texas Supreme Court released the final edits to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure as well as the final version of their proposed Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs. Justice courts now must make this form available to all litigants, without charge or the necessity of a request. Justice courts must use this form, or a form that has all of the information contained in it. These changes are effective September 1, 2016. Click here for a copy of the form. To view the entire order, including the updates to Rule 502.3 (as well as several other rules being updated with the new title of “Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs”), go to http://www.txcourts.gov/media/1435934/169122.pdf.