On Sept. 1, a few hundred new laws will go into aftereffect in Texas. Unfortunately for those of us who like accepting an a citizenry, alone a scattering of bills got any cogent columnist coverage. (You apperceive the ones I’m talking about—the “Bathroom Bill,” the “Sanctuary Cities Bill,” and a scattering of others.)
Allow me to try to do my baby allotment to cure this problem. Over the aing few days, I intend to address a alternation of accessories highlighting some of the lesser-known bills that anesthetized in the 85th Legislature.
I should agenda at the alpha that annihilation I address is advised to be apocalyptic of how I would aphorism on any case that is now, or could potentially appear afore the City Court. Nor do any of these accessories anatomy any blazon of attorney/client relationship. I am artlessly the affectionate of beatnik who gets aflame reviewing new laws, and I achievement I can allotment some of my adeptness with you.
With the disclaimers out of the way, let’s dig in. To save amplitude and your time as a reader, I will accredit to Senate Bills as “S.B.” and House Bills as “H.B.” All of these bills will go into aftereffect on Sept. 1, 2017, unless I agenda otherwise.
The affair of the bills covered in this commodity is: Advance the Process.
H.B. 214 — This bill requires the Texas Supreme Cloister and Texas Cloister of Bent Appeals to column audio/visual recordings of affairs afore those courts on the courts’ websites for the accessible to view. This is a abundant bill that will advance Texans’ adeptness to chase the important cases actuality absitively by these courts. As I see it, the alone botheration with this bill is that it is an unfunded mandate. In fact, the bill says that the recordings should appear “if appointed funds or donations are accessible in the bulk all-important to awning the cost….”
State Rep. Byron Cook, if you’re account this, a appropriate camera costs about $1,600 —let’s armamentarium this bill aing appropriate session!
H.B. 555 —This bill allows canton clerks to aggregate an added $ 100 fee for arising alliance licenses to couples in situations breadth neither actuality is a Texas resident. I was blind this was abundant of a problem, but it will acquiesce clerks to account the costs of arising alliance licenses to association who ain’t from about actuality (and apparently don’t pay the taxes that armamentarium our clerks’ offices). While I accept the cardinal of destination weddings to Texas may decline, it makes our canton clerks’ offices added fiscally sound. Alarm this accouterment a draw. Of agenda is that the bill alone applies to alliance licenses issued on or afterwards January 1, 2019.
H.B. 555 additionally makes changes to the Family Code in acknowledgment to the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 accommodation that same- couples accept a Constitutional appropriate to marry, Obergefell v. Hodges. Readers may anamnesis that afterward the accommodation in Obergefell, a Kentucky agent called Kim Davis banned to affair alliance licenses address her name. H.B. 555 allows for Texas canton clerks to affair alliance licenses after their names. The alliance authorization is still accurate and advantaged to abounding acknowledged force, but the agent gets to accept their moment of protest.
H.B. 557 — This bill expands the cardinal of courts that can accede requests to accept a bent almanac expunged. Under the new law, amends of the accord courts and borough courts of almanac will accompany commune courts as courts with administration to expunge annal of aesthetics for fine-only offenses.
This is a acceptable bill in that it makes it easier to get an expunction for a low-level offense. This is additionally a acceptable bill in that it takes some of the burdens off our state’s over-worked commune courts. However, I accept a austere cartilage to aces with the actuality that the bill leaves borough courts that are not “courts of record” off the account of courts with the new authority.
For those wondering, a cloister of almanac is basically a cloister that can allow a cloister anchorman who takes bottomward what is said in court; it is alternative for borough courts, with alone about 16% of Texas borough courts actuality courts of record. The City of Corsicana’s Borough Cloister is not a cloister of record.
Justice of the accord courts, meanwhile, are not courts of almanac either, but they somehow got included in the bill. This is admitting the actuality that added borough board than justices of the accord are accountant attorneys (56 % to 8 % as of September 1, 2016*) and added borough board accelerating from academy (68 % to 34 % as of September 1, 2016*).
I should agenda that I accept a amazing bulk of account for best of the non-attorney board afore whom I accept appeared and with whom I currently work. However, putting a the account I accept for some individuals, as a catechism of policy, acceptance non-attorneys to be board is aloof about the best absurd affection of the Texas amends system.
By way of analogy: in the Wild West, if a boondocks didn’t accept a doctor, the boondocks beautician would about handle the town’s medical needs (barbers accept abiding hands, at least, which are acceptable for patching wounds). But why in the apple would you not go to a surgeon if there is one around? With the crowd of law academy graduates in contempo decades, there is no acumen for Texas to abide the aged convenance of accepting non-attorneys confined as judges.
And on that note, it makes no faculty that H.B. 557 broadcast administration over the highly-technical and circuitous breadth of expunctions to amends courts but not (non-record) borough courts. Otherwise, the bill is a footfall in the appropriate direction.
S.B. 1329 — For those of you who abhorrence attorneys—and apparently didn’t like my aftermost little tangent—this bill should accommodate some baby bit of consolation: attorneys will now accept to pay an added $ 25 fee to get a cardboard attorney’s authorization from the Texas Supreme Court. (The fee acclimated to be $ 10.) Sometimes it’s the baby victories.
S.B. 1911 — This bill addresses what law advisers alarm the “justice gap.” Basically, the amends gap is that awful breadth breadth you cannot allow an attorney, but either accomplish too abundant money to authorize for a court-appointed attorney, or you are complex in a amount breadth hiring an advocate is not economically sensible. Some ability say that advantageous a $ 2,000 accommodation to get an advocate for a (mostly) accepted divorce, or hiring an advocate to action a fine-only breach in a borough cloister are examples of the amends gap.
Under S.B. 1911, the websites of “each cloister of this state” charge column several links to self-help acknowledged assets accessible through the Texas Office of Cloister Administration. The bill additionally requires a scattering of added measures to about advice bodies who don’t accept attorneys accomplish faculty of the cloister system. This is a acceptable bill.
Check aback aing commodity for updates on laws apropos adolescent marriage, angry trafficking, and attention calm abandon victims.
*Data pulled from a address by the Texas Office of Cloister Administration, accessible at: <http://www.txcourts.gov/media/1435986/judge-profile-sept-16.pdf>.
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