Posts filtered by tags: Office of Court Administration[x]


Radio silence re: ransomware attack on Texas courts

Your correspondent received a notice my information was in a data breach at a company called Blackbaud which is a digital platform for managing nonprofit donors. The company paid a ransomware demand, despite advisories against doing so from the US Treasury. Insurance companies, by contrast, have defended ransomware payouts. This reminds me we've received almost zero information about the ransomware attack on Texas courts last year, and no journalist of whom I'm aware has dug into the topic beyon...
Tags: Texas, Law, Gritsforbreakfast, Forensic Science Commission, Office of Court Administration, US Treasury Insurance

House committee considering Class C misdemeanor debt, arrests

In lieu of a public hearing (with the capitol still closed off from COVID), the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee announced it would accept written testimony regarding its Interim Charge #2 regarding Class C misdemeanor arrests, debt, and the use of citations in lieu of arrest for certain low-level Class Bs. I prepared testimony for the committee on behalf Just Liberty, check it out here. Here's a notable excerpt framing the situation through data (endnotes in original):Class C misdem...
Tags: Law, US, House, Dallas, Houston, Forbes, Plano, Sandra, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Office of Court Administration, Just Liberty

'Vile, Racist Postings' by New York Court Officers Included Obama in a Noose

NEW YORK -- One white court officer in Brooklyn posted an illustration of President Barack Obama with a noose around his neck on social media. Another white officer referred to a Black court officer as "one of the good monkeys."A third white court officer commented to a white colleague that he would have done better on a firearms test if he had been given a "Sean Bell target," a reference to an unarmed Black man killed by police in 2006.The incidents of overt racism were among several mentioned ...
Tags: Facebook, New York, News, Obama, New York City, Barack Obama, Brooklyn, Hillary Clinton, New York Times, Homeland Security, Johnson, Jeh Johnson, New York State, White, Black, Janet DiFiore

Don't be fooled by the shiny new object of online jury trials

This guest blog post was authored by Kathryn Dyer, clinical professor at UT Law’s Criminal Defense Clinic (for identification purposes only) and long-time public defender. Tomorrow, Travis County will hold what is being billed as “ the nation’s first binding criminal jury trial held via video conference ,” i.e. trial by Zoom. The case, which is for a speeding ticket, is considered “low-level” because as a Class C misdemeanor in Texas it does not carry the possibility of jail time as punishme...
Tags: Texas, Law, Pew Research Center, Unknown, Don, Texas Supreme Court, Travis County, Office of Court Administration, David Slayton, Kathryn Dyer, UT Law 's Criminal Defense Clinic, Travis County Justice, Nicholas Chu

Test driving the 'Texas Criminal Court Data Dashboard': Extra functionality adds value

The Texas Criminal Court Data Dashboard - a project of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, January Advisors, Microsoft, and Norflet Progress Fund - has expanded its dataset. It now includes court data from Harris, Dallas, Bexar and Travis Counties, and statewide data from the Office of Court Administration going back 10 years. This lets one do a lot of work. Just as an example, I ran data on less-than-a-gram drug cases for calendar year 2018 for the four counties in question, and for starter...
Tags: Texas, Law, Dallas, HARRIS, Harris County, OCA, Texas Commission, Travis County, Bexar, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Office of Court Administration, Texas Criminal Court Data Dashboard, Norflet Progress Fund, Harris Dallas Bexar, Travis Counties

Texas Courts System Hit by Ransomware Attack

The network that supports the Texas court system was targeted by a ransomware attack late last week, the Office of Court Administration said Monday.Read more...
Tags: Security, Texas, Science, Cybersecurity, Ransomware, Office of Court Administration

Texas trends follow national decline in misdemeanor arrests

The Wall Street Journal on Sunday published an item reporting on a nationwide decline in misdemeanor arrests, a trend this blog has been documenting for several years. So Grits thought it worth comparing the national trends cited to Texas data.The WSJ article focused on jurisdictions where misdemeanor arrests could be broken out by race, with arrests of black people accounting for a disproportionate share of  the decrease. Texas data don't immediately allow us to make similar, racially delineate...
Tags: Texas, Law, Fbi, Austin, Gop, Wall Street Journal, WSJ, Stevenson, UC Irvine, Texas Legislature, OCA, Texas Texas, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration, Twitter Grits, Alexandra Natapoff

Class-C arrests by Austin PD plummet after policy restrictions implemented

As bills are considered at the Texas Legislature to restrict Class-C misdemeanor arrests, Austin PD revealed that new policies limiting such warrantless detentions have radically reduced their number. "In the first three months of the year," the Statesman reported, there was a 57% decline over 2018 arrest numbers."The new changes eliminated the majority of allowable reasons officers could make an arrest for Class-C misdemeanor violations, for which the maximum punishment is only a fine, not jail...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, US supreme court, Sandra Bland, Harris County, Manley, Texas Legislature, Atwater, Travis County, Appleseed, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Austin PD, Office of Court Administration, Texas Appleseed

Texas bail-reform legislation not ready for prime time

Competing bail-reform bills are up in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee today, but in this writer's view, none of them is ready for prime time. For reasons articulated before, the Texas Judicial Council bill carried by Murr/Whitmire (HB 1323) fails to address the main constitutional flaws identified in Texas' system by federal litigation. The Governor's bill, carried by Rep. Kyle Kacal and backed by the bail-bond industry (HB 2020), is even worse. It creates a new layer of governmen...
Tags: Texas, Law, 5th Circuit, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration, Texas Judicial Council, House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Kyle Kacal, Murr Whitmire, Bail Advisory Program

Class C misdemeanor arrests and incarceration in Texas, by the numbers

Beginning with the consideration of HB 482 (Thompson) in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, the Texas Legislature will spend quite a bit of time over the coming weeks considering the consequences of arrest and incarceration for Class C misdemeanors, which in Texas are minor offenses carrying a maximum punishment of a $500 fine and no jail time.There are two ways people end up incarcerated over Class C misdemeanors. First, after the US Supreme Court okayed the p...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Harper, US supreme court, Thompson, Texas Department of Public Safety, Sandra, Harris County, Atwater, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration, Municipal Judges, Percentage of Americans the Federal Reserve, Office of Court Administration Judicial Statistics

Bail-reform blues: Can't please all parties when reforming pretrial-detention process

Governor Greg Abbott's endorsement of bail reform last year appeared to give the issue fresh life. But Abbott has now backed a bail-reform bill that eschews best practices and instead puts his office at the center of future decisions about pretrial reform.The Houston Chronicle editorial board rightly opined that the move puts legislative reform efforts at extreme risk, but it's hardly just the governor. There's a swirl of backroom drama surrounding this topic with an array of competing interests...
Tags: Law, Abbott, Greg Abbott, Houston Chronicle, Laura, Legislature, 5th Circuit, Gritsforbreakfast, John Arnold Foundation, Office of Court Administration, Texas Judicial Council, Whitmire Murr, Damon Allen

County Judge blames #txlege for indigent defense costs, but local officials' choices are to blame

Having written yesterday about Texas counties portraying their core, criminal-justice responsibilities as "unfunded mandates," this morning Grits was treated to a column in the Dallas News by Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley. Cooke County is a mostly rural area hugging the Oklahoma border north of Denton; Gainesville is the county seat.After rightly complaining that the state's under-funded school-finance system, not county expenditures, were driving property-tax increases, Mr. Brinkley veers o...
Tags: Texas, Law, Dallas, Oklahoma, Denton, Gainesville, Legislature, Brinkley, Cooke County, Indigent Defense Commission, Gritsforbreakfast, Dallas News, Office of Court Administration, Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley Cooke County, Cooke County Jail

Texans incarcerated thousands of years over traffic-ticket debt

In 2018, according to Office of Court Administration data, 524,628 people satisfied Class C misdemeanor fines and fees through jail credit. By contrast, despite legislation passed in 2017 to make it easier for judges to waive fines and provide community service options, only 53,773 people had their fines waived for indigency in 2018, and 97,260 avoided fines with partial or full credit for community service. So more than three times as many people last year sat out their fines in jail compa...
Tags: Texas, Law, Federal Reserve, OCA, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration

Morning Docket: 01.16.19

* Neil Gorsuch wrote an opinion in favor of labor rights and against mandatory arbitration. Yes, that Neil Gorsuch. [Slate] * The Trump Administration takes an L: S.D.N.Y. judge rules they can't ask citizenship questions in the census. [New York Law Journal] * Federal courts are now intending to squeak by on funding through January 25th. This is the second extension the Office of Court Administration has been able to muster due to aggressive cost cutting. [National Law Journal] * Kirsten Gill...
Tags: New York, Law, Boston, Npr, Kirsten Gillibrand, Courthouse News Service, Susan Berman, Robert Durst, Beantown, National Law Journal, Davis Polk, American Lawyer, New York Law Journal, Morning Docket, Office of Court Administration, Trump Administration

Junk science writ takes out bite-mark evidence, Understaffing let prisoner's flesh-eating bacteria linger without medical care, Christmas while mommy's in jail, and other stories

A few odds and ends headed into the holiday: Junk science writ takes out bite-mark evidence In the Steven Chaney case, Texas' junk science writ worked exactly as it was intended. Texas courts have refused to exclude bite-mark evidence on the front end through Daubert hearings. But the junk science writ gave wrongfully convicted defendants an avenue to challenge false convictions on the back end. And it provided the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals a vehicle to declare junk science invalid in a wa...
Tags: Texas, Law, Inmate, Tom, Legislature, Mother Jones, HRO, Texas Legislature, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Daubert, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Dallas News, Office of Court Administration, Keri Blakinger, House Research Organization

Squeaky wheels get grease: CCA posting oral arguments again

Grits had been complaining to court staff about the failure to post videos of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals oral arguments for a couple of months. But they only, finally began posting the video after I publicly wrote about it on the blog last week. Since your correspondent is both a public-policy advocate and also media, in a sense, I'm frequently afforded a unique perspective when these sorts of situations arise. There is a telling pattern regarding how government agency leaders and polit...
Tags: Law, Houston Chronicle, CCA, Calvert, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, James Calvert, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration, Keri Blakinger, Texas Inmate Family Association, Jennifer Erschabek

Checking in at the CCA: TX high criminal court hasn't posted oral-argument videos in nearly six months, and other stories

Since your correspondent left the Innocence Project of Texas, I haven't tracked the Court of Criminal Appeals hand-down lists nearly as closely as at times in the past. But here are a few recent items that merit Grits readers attention. Hiccup in publishing CCA arguments video Last year, the Legislature mandated that oral argument videos from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals should be recorded and posted online. But the last ones available as of this writing are from June, and court staff don...
Tags: Texas, Law, Alcala, Keller, Legislature, TX, Paxton, Ken Paxton, CCA, Texas Tribune, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Newton County, James Calvert, Court of Criminal Appeals, Sheriff 's Department, Gritsforbreakfast

Build on momentum to end Texas debtors prison practices

Your correspondent has been openly pleased with the success of Texas' debtors-prison reform legislation from 2017. This will always be one of Grits' favorites because the House bill author, state Rep. Terry Canales, told the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee when he laid out the bill that many of the ideas behind it came from a post on this humble blog.So I was pleased to see the site Edinburg Politics recently published an extended feature on the legislation, and the Rio Grande Valley legislator...
Tags: Texas, Law, House, Rio Grande Valley, James White, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration, Terry Canales, Texas Office of Court Administration, Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Edinburg Politics

Are DWI fatalities "out of control" or "curiously constrained"?

At the Houston Chronicle, St. John Barned-Smith and Dug Begley have an extensive feature on DWI in the Houston metro area, noting that the Houston and Dallas metro areas have the most DWI fatalities of any in the country since the turn of the century. This is less reporting than an advocacy piece, making the argument that, in the authors' words, "Texas is not doing enough to stop impaired drivers." Grits doesn't mind a good advocacy article; after all, that's precisely what I do here. But I me...
Tags: Florida, Texas, Law, Dallas, Houston, Houston Chronicle, Legislature, DPS, Chronicle, Begley, OCA, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration, John Barned Smith, New York City MSA, Texas Department of Transportation Grits

Roundup: Forensic follies featuring DNA mixtures, blood spatter, and DWIs, plus how the Drug War props up mass incarceration in Texas, and other stories

A few odds and ends while your correspondent is focused elsewhere: Flood of coverage, emotion, anger surrounding Botham Jean killing The killing of Botham Jean by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger is the most politically significant episode of alleged police misconduct resulting in a death in Texas since the Sandra Bland tragedy. Your correspondent began a longer commentary on the topic over the weekend, but the stories being put out by law enforcement evolved so quickly that, with no first...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Brady, TX, Rockport, MSM, Texas Southern University, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Observer, Office of Court Administration, 14th Court of Appeals, Rockport Police Department, Aransas County

What the judges want: Judicial Council recommendations to the #txlege

The Texas Judicial Council last month issued its recommendations to the Legislature on criminal-justice reform heading into the 86th session in 2019. Let's take a look at what judges are asking of the Texas Lege. ' I cannot make bricks without clay' Although listed under the heading for opiods, a recommendation to improve statewide collection of case-level court data deserved to be highlighted more prominently. The Council wants Texas to  begin collecting:relevant case level data from all court...
Tags: Texas, Law, Rick Perry, IAC, Houston, Council, US supreme court, Legislature, Judicial Council, Court of Criminal Appeals, Gritsforbreakfast, Elsa Alcala, Office of Court Administration, Texas Judicial Council, Texas Lege

Most felony drug convictions in Texas get incarceration as a sentence

The new Annual Statistical Report on the Texas Judiciary from the Office of Court Administration is out.Grits took a quick look at the data for felony drug possession cases in Texas District Courts. On. p. 112 we see that District Judges in Texas generated just more than 25,000 new felony drug possession convictions in 2017. Of those, nearly all were sentenced to incarceration of some sort:Sentences Related to Felony Drug-Possession Convictions in Texas, 2017 Prison: 5,281State Jail: 7,243*Local...
Tags: Texas, Law, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Office of Court Administration, Texas District, Texas Judiciary

Assessing Harris County bail litigation as it nears denouement

In last month's Reasonably Suspicious podcast, I interviewed Susanne Pringle, executive director of the Texas Fair Defense Project, about the denouement of the Harris County bail litigation, in which her organization was one of the plaintiffs. Since we spoke, Galveston County was sued by the ACLU over essentially similar grounds, and Dallas County already faced litigation over its bail system, so the Harris County domino falling may soon take down quite a few other county's pretrial detention re...
Tags: Texas, Law, Aclu, Dallas, Houston, Scott, HARRIS, Pringle, Fifth Circuit, Harris County, Galveston County, Susman Godfrey, 5th Circuit, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Susanne, Dallas County

Manhattan court judge demoted after swearing at colleague

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City judge has been demoted after his expletive-laced tirade directed at another judge was overheard in court. Office of Court Administration spokesman Lucian Chalfen says the decision to demote Manhattan Judge Anthony Ferrara is effective immediately. The Daily News reports the judge will do “chambers work” until he […]
Tags: New York, News, New York City, Manhattan, Daily News, Nation & World, Office of Court Administration, Lucian Chalfen, Anthony Ferrara

A Pocket Dial to a Reporter Costs a Court Spokesman His Job

The strange downfall of David Bookstaver, who mistakenly dialed a New York Post reporter, and then was overheard admitting he had a no-show job.
Tags: New York Post, News, David, Jonathan, Lippman, Office of Court Administration, Labor and Jobs, David Bookstaver, Bookstaver

NY courts spokesman fired after saying he ‘barely’ worked

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York state court system’s longtime communications chief has been fired after inadvertently telling a reporter that he “barely” went to work. The Office of Court Administration says David Bookstaver was terminated Thursday. Chief courts spokesman Lucian Chalfen says officials “take abuses of office extremely seriously.” His firing came a […]
Tags: New York, News, Ap, Oddities, Nation & World, Nation & World Politics, Office of Court Administration, David Bookstaver, Lucian Chalfen

Blessed are the Poor: Examining opposition to debtors-prison legislation

Texas State Sen. Paul Bettencourt was quoted by the Associated Press (June 11) criticizing debtors-prison legislation (SB 1913) which he and five others voted against in the senate. He:said that it did not adequately consider “personal responsibility” and that it provided too much leeway for judges to waive fines. “Current law already allows a court to work with indigent defendants who are truly unable to pay court imposed fines,” said Bettencourt, a Houston Republican.Let's flesh this criticism...
Tags: Law, Ap, Associated Press, Houston, Harris County, Bettencourt, Gritsforbreakfast, Office of Court Administration, David Slayton, Texas State Sen Paul Bettencourt, Sen Bettencourt

Bail reform, on blast

With the Harris County District Attorney now siding with plaintiffs in bail-reform litigation, a pivotal hearing before federal Judge Lee Rosenthal launched yesterday in Houston. Meanwhile, bail-reform legislation was finally filed yesterday in Austin. It was a big day for the topic. It turns out, even the threat of a litigation-imposed settlement spurred some improvement: "As of last May, when the lawsuit began, only about 8 percent of the county's misdemeanor offenders received no-cost persona...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, House, Houston, Sandra Bland, Robert Durst, Legislature, Harris County, Texas Senate, Texas Legislature, Alec Karakatsanis, Judicial Council, Gritsforbreakfast, John Whitmire, Sandra Guerra Thompson

Bill bows to pragmatism, overburdened muni, JP courts to help indigent

One of the first bills up in the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this year, HB 351 by Rep. Terry Canales, would eliminate certain "Debtors Prison" practices in Texas municipal and Justice of the Peace courts related to indigence and Class C misdemeanors. (HB 50 by Corrections Committee Chairman James White is an identical bill.) The bill is on the agenda for Monday's CrimJur hearing.In particular, HB 351 would eliminate the requirement that judges wait until a defendant has defaulte...
Tags: Texas, Law, Bill, James White, HB, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Office of Court Administration, Terry Canales, Ted Wood, Corrections Committee, Harris County Public Defender Office Read

House Corrections committee rethinking probation fees

The Texas House Corrections Committee interim report to the 84th Legislature began with a discussion of excessive fees in the criminal justice system which merits readers' attention. The committee, chaired by Republican state Rep. Jim Murphy, focused on relatively obscure aspects of the system which nonetheless are incredibly important to the people affected by them, both people who must pay and government employees who collect them. On probation, for example:If someone is on probation, there wi...
Tags: Texas, Law, Jim Murphy, Fees, Republican, Probation, Don, Legislature, Department of Public Safety, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas House Corrections Committee, Office of Court Administration