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LRL Home - Collections - Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Revision Research Guide - Timeline of the revision processprinter friendly versionreturn to screen view

Timeline of the Revision Process

Revision Project Overview

Demands for revision of Texas' Code of Criminal Procedure began shortly after the turn of the century. In his first gubernatorial campaign in 1906, Thomas Mitchell Campbell embraced a plank in the Democratic party platform calling for simplification of procedure in criminal trials. As governor, Campbell reiterated his support for the platform and urged the Legislature to enact reforms in 1907 and in 1909. Campbell's efforts, summarized in his outgoing address to the Legislature in 1911, were prompted by a wave of popular discontent that extended well beyond the borders of Texas.

Across the country, lawyers, legal scholars, and bar associations agitated for procedural reform during the first half of the twentieth century. The cause was also advanced by the press, social scientists, and civic and religious organizations, all of whom were provoked by reports of rising crime and an archaic system of criminal justice that seemed to favor defendants' rights over the pursuit of justice.

The Texas State Bar took up the mantel of procedural reform in the 1920s. Resolutions advocating study and revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure were passed by the State Bar throughout the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. State Bar recommendations brought before the Legislature, however, repeatedly failed to gain traction.

Frustrated by lawmakers' unwillingness to engage in more than legislative "tinkering," lawyers and judges pushed for an updated system of criminal procedure established by the courts rather than the Legislature. When several attempts to accomplish reform through judicial rule-making failed, a special committee of the State Bar assumed the task of drafting a full-scale revision of the rules of procedure.

In 1958, Bar President Leo Brewster established the State Bar Committee for Revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code. The Committee's stated goals were: to eliminate unnecessary, unjust and outmoded technicalities in favor of the State, as well as of the defendant; to achieve an up-to-date code of trial and appellate procedure that would be comparable to the advance made by adoption of the Code of Civil Procedure; and to achieve justice by striking a balance between protection of society from criminals and the prevention of convictions of innocent persons.

After six years of study, during which the existing Code was "minutely and thoroughly examined and 'dissected' for all purposes," the committee presented a thoroughly-vetted draft to the Legislature. SB107, 59R, the first comprehensive revision of criminal procedure in over 100 years, was signed into law on June 18, 1965. The law became effective on January 1, 1966.

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1920 State Bar discusses and refers to committee a resolution by Judge C.H. Jenkins establishing a judicial council with exclusive authority to establish rules and regulations governing court procedure in Texas. (39 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 30, 183 (1920))
1922 State Bar fails to approve a proposal to bring before the Legislature a measure that would have repealed the statutory rules of practice and grant the Supreme Court the power to make and enforce all rules of practice. (41 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 56 (1922))
1923 State Bar President W.A. Wright urges an end to legislative "tinkering" with the rules of practice and procedure and calls for rulemaking power by the Supreme Court with the aid of the district Bench and Bar. (42 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 6, 12 (1923))

In 1923, and again in 1924, State Bar Committee on Jurisprudence and Law Reform recommends the Supreme Court of Texas, with the aid of a commission of lawyers, prepare rules to supplant all statutes on civil and criminal procedure. Identical recommendations receive Bar approval in subsequent years. (42 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 39 (1923); 43 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 29 (1924); 25 Tex. L. Rev. 613, 629 (1947))
1925 American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology ask the American Law Institute to prepare a Model Code of Criminal Procedure. (93 Marquette L. Rev. 433, 444; 1 Tex. B.J. 120 (1938))
1926 State Bar adopts resolution appointing a special committee to revise existing statutes and rules of court governing procedure and to urge the Legislature and Supreme Court to substitute the Bar's work product for present statutes and rules of procedure. (45 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 235 (1926))
1927 State Bar Committee on Remedial Procedure and Law Reform submits thirteen measures to the Legislature, including one authorizing the Supreme Court, in conjunction with a committee of judges and lawyers, to prepare rules of procedure. None of the bills pass. (46 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 91 (1927))
1928 State Bar Committee on Remedial Procedure and Law Reform outlines recommendations to be submitted to the next Legislature. Included is the suggestion that a judicial council be created to aid the judiciary in simplifying the rules of procedure. Also included are recommendations related to pleadings, orders, and motions; right of severance; indictments; bail bonds; harmless error; and judicial selection. (47 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 50 (1928))
1929 Legislature passes SB252, 41R, creating an advisory civil judicial council for the continuous study, investigation, and reporting upon the civil judicial system of the State, its administration, procedure and functioning...
1930 American Law Institute adopts a Model Code of Criminal Procedure. (16 A.B.A. J. 351 (1930))
1935 Over 20 bills revising criminal procedure statutes are introduced in the 44th Legislature. Only seven pass. (54 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 126 (1935))
1942 State Bar Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure recommends the Legislature pass a law conferring upon the proper court rulemaking power in criminal proceedings. (5 Tex. B.J. 224 (1942); 23 Texas L. Rev. 215 (1945); Dallas News, 5/23/1953)
1945 Senator Howard Carney introduces a package of nine bills, none of which pass, amending the Code of Criminal Procedure. (Dallas Morning News, 2/2/1947) (See: SB 70-74 and 144-147, 49R.)
1946 Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure become effective March 21, 1946.
1947 Governor Jester calls for reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure in a joint address to the 50th Legislature (House Journal, p. 85).
  Legislature fails to pass SB439, 50R, by Senator Howard Carney, authorizing the governor to appoint a committee to make a thorough study of the Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure.
  Senator Howard Carney introduces a package of eleven "highly serviceable" bills, none of which pass. (Dallas Morning News, 2/2/1947) (See: SB 88-98, 50R.)
  State Bar's standing Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure issues controversial report (disapproved by the membership on July 5, 1947) declaring existing criminal laws and procedural statutes "reasonably adequate" and warning "any attempt to change or modify same might result in drastic measures." (10 Tex Bar J. 244 (1947); 65 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 56 (1947))
  State Bar President H. Grady Chandler appoints Committee of Criminal Jurisprudence to be headed by William McCraw to consider revision of criminal laws and criminal procedure. (17 Tex. B.J. 49 (1954); Dallas News, 5/23/1953; 38 Tex L. Rev. 821 (1960))
1948 State Bar Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure recommends revision and recodification of the Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure. The committee's report, adopted in July of 1948, calls on the Legislature to give the Supreme Court authority to promulgate rules of procedure for criminal trials. Pending accomplishment of a general revision, the committee recommends eighteen changes to criminal statutes. (66 Proc. Tex. Bar Assoc. 84 (1948); 11 Tex. B.J. 361 (1948); Dallas News, 5/23/1953; 38 Tex L. Rev. 821 (1960))
1949 Legislature fails to pass HB358, 51R, regarding appointment of a Commission on Criminal Law Revision composed of judges, district attorneys, lawyers, and legal scholars to rewrite the Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure.
  Legislature passes HCR80, 51R, regarding appointment of a commission (mainly of its own members) to study and draft all necessary amendments to the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  Legislature fails to pass recommendations made by the State Bar Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure. (38 Tex L. Rev. 821, 822 (1960); 17 Tex. B.J. 49 (1954))
1951 Package of twenty-seven bills considered "not a cure-all...just a step in the right direction" in improving criminal law procedure are introduced in the Senate by Crawford Martin. (See: SB 149-175.) Nine of the bills pass. (Dallas Morning News, 2/18/51)
  State Bar Committee on Criminal Law Procedure votes to ask the next Legislature to submit a constitutional amendment to the voters allowing the Court of Criminal Appeals to make rules for the trial and appeal of criminal cases. (Dallas Morning News, 11/5/1951)
1952 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws adopts Uniform Rules of Criminal Procedure. Revisions are approved in 1974 and 1987. (Uniform Laws Annotated, Volume 10)
1953 Legislature fails to pass HJR 31, 53R, giving the Court of Criminal Appeals the duty to promulgate rules of procedure in criminal proceedings. (Dallas News, 5/29/1953)
  Over 125 criminal procedure bills and resolutions are introduced in the Legislature. (Dallas News, 4/6/1953)
1954 Legislature fails to pass HB108, 53(1), creating a special interim committee to study laws relating to crimes and criminal procedure, HSR142, 53 (1), instructing the Legislative Council to make a study of deficiencies in existing criminal procedure, and HB99, 53(1), adding to the duties of the Texas Judicial Council a study of the rules of procedure in criminal trials.
1955 Legislature fails to pass HJR26, 54R, authorizing the Court of Criminal Appeals to promulgate rules of criminal procedure.
1957 Governor Price Daniel calls for creation of State Law Enforcement Commission to investigate misconduct on the part of state officials and employees along with improvements in law enforcement and crime prevention. (House Journal, 1/17/1957, p. 81-82, 850)
  Legislature fails to pass HB855, 55R, creating State Law Enforcement Commission to investigate allegations of misconduct on the part of state officials and employees along with improvements in law enforcement and crime prevention. (Dallas News, 11/9/1957)
  Legislature fails to pass HB415, 55R, creating a commission to study and revise the Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure.
  Legislature passes HB5, 55(1), creating State Law Enforcement Study Commission to study law enforcement and crime prevention and the need for an updated Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure. (Dallas News, 11/9/1957)
1958 State Bar President Leo Brewster appoints seventeen members of the Committee for Revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code. (27 Tex. B.J. 935 (1964))
  State Law Enforcement Study Commission report to the 56th Legislature recommends 27 proposals to address difficulties in criminal proceedings. Proposals fall into five categories: facilitation of bail; new offenses and changes in punishment; assessment of punishment by judge or jury; waiver of trial by jury; pre-trial proceedings and other changes in rules of procedure and evidence. (See L1836.55 L41 and L1836.55 L41B in the Library's collection.)
  State Bar Judicial Committee makes 15 recommendations for improvement in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. (21 Tex. B.J. 669 (1958); 27 Tex. B.J. 935 (1964))
1959 Twenty-seven bills recommended by the State Law Enforcement Study Commission are introduced in the House and the Senate. Only three bills pass: SB105, SB199, and SB201, 56R. (See: L1836.55 L41B in the Library's collection for bill numbers.)
1960 State Bar Committee for Revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code presents to the Board of Directors a Revised Code of Criminal Procedure draft including 39 major changes and numerous deletions. (23 Tex. B.J. 527 (1960))
1962 Members of the Bench and Bar participate in a referendum on 160 specific changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure proposed by the State Bar Committee for Revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code. (25 Tex. B.J. 81 (1962))
1963 Revised Code of Criminal Procedure as recommended by the State Bar Committee for Revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code is introduced as SB270, 58R. With 160 proposed changes, the legislation represents the first full-scale revision of criminal procedure in over 100 years. After passing both chambers, the bill is vetoed by Governor Connally due to technical errors. (Dallas News, 6/5/1963)
1965 New draft from the State Bar Committee for the Revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code is introduced as a bill. SB107, 59R is adopted by the Senate and House and is signed into law on June 18, 1965.