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September 10, 1998     (512) 463-0300

Senate Jurisprudence Committee Study Possible Changes in Courtroom Procedures

LUBBOCK - The Senate Jurisprudence Committee met at Texas Tech University in Lubbock Thursday morning, studying possible changes in courtoom procedure that could be adopted by the upcoming 76th Legislature. Attending for the committee were Chair Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston and Senator Robert Duncan of Lubbock. Other committee members include Senator Chris Harris of Arlington, David Cain of Dallas, Gregory Luna of San Antonio, Steve Ogden of Bryan, and Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio.

The committee first heard from the Supreme Court Jury Task Force regarding payment of jurors in the state. The task force reported that jurors' compensation is so meager that many Texans cannot afford to serve, especially in the case of extended trials. The committee then called other witnesses who explored ways to expand the pool of potential jurors. One suggestion was to pull juror candidates not only from the voter registration lists but from Texas Drivers License records as well.

In the afternoon, the committee examined potential new rules for juror conduct in the courtroom. They examined the question of how and when camera should be allowed in Texas courts, and heard from the American Bar Association Task Force on Campaign Contributions and Judicial Redistricting. The committee closed with a short discussion of its interim report and recommendations, due to be presented shortly to Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock.

The committee stands recessed subject to the call of the chair.

The committee will submit its final report and recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes January 12, 1999.

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