Should the state get rid of the Criminal Court of Appeals?
Posted By Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass || 26-Dec-2012
A proposed bill in Texas wants to get rid of the state's Criminal Court of Appeals. The bill proposes that instead of sending criminal cases to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, they be heard by the Texas Supreme Court. The proposed bill would have the State Supreme Court decide which criminal cases to review. However, it would require the Supreme Court to hear all death penalty appeals.
Texas and Oklahoma are the only two states that have their courts separated between civil and criminal jurisdictions. Supporters of keeping the Criminal Court of Appeals say that it helps reduce backlogs in cases being reviewed.
The lawmaker who proposed the bill said that it makes sense to make this change since the entire country, besides Oklahoma, has only one highest court for all cases. This issue has been debated many times in Texas but similar bills have never been passed in the state.
Not everyone in the state has decided whether or not it would be good to merge the courts. The Texas Civil Justice League said that it may be difficult merging the two courts because there would be so many cases needed to be reviewed and it could impact criminal appeal cases that have already waited a long time to be heard.
Criminal law experts have said that merging the two courts would likely mean that some criminal appeal cases would not be heard by judges with expertise in criminal law. Others experts have said that it would not impact criminal cases and it would be nice to have a review of these cases by judges with more of civil law standard.
If the proposed bill is passed, there may be several challenges for merging pending criminal and civil appeal cases.
Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, "Bill renews debate on abolishing Texas Court of Criminal Appeals," Maurice Chammah, Dec. 13, 2012
Categories: Criminal Defense, Appeals