PMWJ C.S.S.B. 20 75(R) BILL ANALYSIS JUDICIAL AFFAIRS S.B. 20 By: Ratliff (Thompson et al.) C.S.S.B. 20 By: Thompson 4-30-97 Committee Report (Substituted) BACKGROUND Since LULAC v. Clements (challenging Texas' method of electing district judges in nine Texas counties) was first decided in federal trial court, the Legislature has not approved any new district courts in urban counties with significant minority populations. Many of these urban areas have experienced tremendous growth in populations served, caseload or docket backlogs. In addition, amendments to the Texas Constitution required the Legislature to reapportion judicial districts in 1993. While this was not done by the Legislature or the Legislative Redistricting Board as required, some recommended changes were codified in 1995. PURPOSE This bill creates twelve new urban district courts. In addition, this bill reapportions the 20th and 82nd judicial districts to make changes recommended in 1993 by the Committee on Judicial Affairs. 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, effective September 1, 1997, adds new Sections 24.524, 24.538, 24.540 and 24.541 to the Government Code. New Sec. 24.524 creates the 379th Judicial District composed of Bexar County which shall give preference to criminal cases. New Sec. 24.538 creates the 393rd Judicial District composed of Bexar County which shall give preference to juvenile matters. New Sec. 24.540 creates the 395th Judicial District composed of Fort Bend County to give preference to civil matters. New Sec. 24.541 creates the 396th Judicial District composed of Tarrant County to give preference to criminal cases. SECTION 2, effective January 1, 1999, adds Sections 24.542 through 24.549 to the Government Code. New Sec. 24.542 creates the 397th Judicial District composed of Harris County to give preference to juvenile matters. New Sec. 24.543 creates the 398th Judicial District composed of Galveston County to give preference to cases under the Family Code. New Sec. 24.544 creates the 399th Judicial District composed of Travis County. New Sec. 24.545 creates the 400th Judicial District composed of Nueces County to give preference to juvenile matters. New Sec. 24.546 creates the 401st Judicial District composed of Tom Green County. New Sec. 24.547 creates the 402nd Judicial District composed of Webb County to give preference cases involving family violence and cases under the Family Code. New Sec. 24.548 creates the 403rd Judicial District composed of Fort Bend County to give preference to cases under the Family Code. New Sec. 24.549 creates the 404th Judicial District composed of Cameron County to give preference to juvenile matters. SECTION 3, effective January 1, 2001, amends Section 24.121 of the Government Code to add Falls and Robertson counties to Milam County in the 20th Judicial District and to change the terms of the court to twice a year instead of three times a year. SECTION 4, effective January 1, 1999, amends Section 24.184 of the Government Code to add Milam County to Robertson and Falls counties in the 82nd Judicial District. SECTION 5 provides that the initial vacancies in the offices created by Section 2 of this bill shall be filled by election and exist for the purposes of the primary and general elections in 1998. Thereafter, vacancies are to be filled as provided by the Texas Constitution. SECTION 6. Emergency clause. COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL TO SUBSTITUTE Section 1 of the original bill created five new district courts in Bexar County, three new courts in Travis County, and one new court each in Fort Bend, El Paso and Cameron counties. None of the new courts gave preference to any type of case in the original. Section 1 in the substitute creates two new district courts in Bexar County, and one each in Fort Bend and Tarrant counties, and specifies the preferences that each court shall give. Sections 2 through 5 in the substitute were not in the original bill. Section 6 in the substitute was Section 2 in the original bill.