PMWJ H.B. 1916 75(R)BILL ANALYSIS JUDICIAL AFFAIRS H.B. 1916 By: Goodman 3-12-97 Committee Report (Amended) BACKGROUND Tarrant County has ten (10) statutory county criminal courts. In 1995, the Legislature converted County Criminal Court Number 5 (CCC5) into a traffic appeals court in order to address a large backlog of cases from the other county courts. The backlog of cases has been reduced from 35,000 cases to little more than 350 cases due to the effectiveness of the appeals court, and the establishment of new courts of record in most municipalities. Currently, there is a large backlog of domestic violence cases in Tarrant County where these cases are distributed throughout the County Criminal Courts, the District Courts and protective orders that are addressed in six Civil Courts. In addition, filings of domestic violence cases in Tarrant County have risen from 2,200 in 1993 to 3,700 in 1995, an increase of 37.7 percent. Legislation is needed to reduce the backlog of domestic violence cases in Tarrant County, eliminate excessive delays in prosecuting these cases, provide adequate protection to victims, and to ensure a fair trial for defendants. PURPOSE The purpose of this legislation is to restore the original criminal jurisdiction of CCC5 and require the court to give preference to three types of cases: domestic violence, violations of protective orders, and stalking. The court would not hear civil matters or felonies. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1 amends Sec. 25.2221 of the Government Code. CCC5 is not listed in subsection (b) as being a county criminal court because the legislature changed it to the only county court of appeals in Tarrant County in 1995. This section adds CCC5 as a county criminal court in Tarrant County and renumbers Tarrant County Criminal Courts 6-10. SECTION 2 amends Sec. 25.2223 of the Government Code. Subsec. (a)is amended to authorize concurrent jurisdiction within the county over appeals from justice courts and municipal courts in the county in all county criminal courts in Tarrant County. New Subsec. (l) requires County Criminal Court No. 5 of Tarrant County to give preference to three types of cases: domestic violence, violations of protective orders, and stalking. SECTION 3 repeals Sections 25.2221(d) and 25.2225 of the Government Code, governing the Tarrant County Court of Appeals because there will no longer be a Tarrant County Court of Appeals. SECTION 4. Subsec. (a) redesignates the County Criminal Court of Appeals of Tarrant County as County Criminal Court No. 5 of Tarrant County. Subsec. (b) provides for filling the initial vacancy of the court and terms of office. SECTION 5 provides that the initial term of County Criminal Court No. 5 of Tarrant County ends December 31, 1998 and that the commissioners court shall determine terms after the initial term. SECTION 6. Effective date. SECTION 7. Emergency clause. EXPLANATION OF AMENDMENTS Committee Amendment No. 1 adds Tarrant County Criminal Court No. 5 to the list of Tarrant County Criminal Courts authorized to conduct arraignments, pretrial hearings and accept guilty pleas in felony cases.