Tribpedia: Texas Courts

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Is it Time to Ditch Texas' Key Man Grand Jury System?

Gov. Rick Perry leaves the Blackwell-Thurman Justice Center in Austin after his booking on Aug. 19, 2014.
Gov. Rick Perry leaves the Blackwell-Thurman Justice Center in Austin after his booking on Aug. 19, 2014.

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted last month for allegedly overstepping his authority, the charges came from a type of grand jury that is not the norm in Austin’s criminal courts: one whose members were chosen at random. Usually, it's a "key man" system — one that critics say opens the door to bias in the courtroom. 

From left to right: David Lyle, senior counsel for state advancement, American Constitution Society, and Bert Brandenburg, executive director, Justice at Stake.
From left to right: David Lyle, senior counsel for state advancement, American Constitution Society, and Bert Brandenburg, executive director, Justice at Stake.

Brandenburg and Lyle: The TT Interview

Two experts in campaign finance and its effects on how judges decide cases say the money has a measurable effect and that some changes in law can help. Bert Brandenburg and David Lyle talk about the effect of political money in judicial races, the perception that judges are for sale and how to insulate the courts from conflicts of interest.

 

Rachel Hebert, 17, and her mother, Elizabeth, were issued court summons after Rachel missed numerous days of school because of medical problems relating to her cerebral palsy.
Rachel Hebert, 17, and her mother, Elizabeth, were issued court summons after Rachel missed numerous days of school because of medical problems relating to her cerebral palsy.

Lawmakers Attempt to Change Truancy Laws

Some parents and advocacy organizations say the state’s truancy laws are too harsh. The Senate passed a bill last week to change these laws, compromising with judges and school district officials who feared the proposed changes were too broad.