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House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence - 85th R.S. (2017)

Committee Members
John Smithee, Chair
Jessica Farrar, Vice Chair
Roland Gutierrez
Ana Hernandez
Jodie Laubenberg
Andrew S. Murr
Victoria Neave
Matt Rinaldi
Mike Schofield
Charges
• Study the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the courts and legal system. Examine whether existing statutes granting authority to the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals are adequate to address potential needs during emergencies. Study the effects of Harvey on civil legal aid programs in general, and specifically in regard to legal problems faced by those impacted.
• Examine the increasing use of non-traditional methods of resolving legal disputes and interacting with the legal system, and the implications of this trend both for the parties involved and the legal system as a whole. Include an examination of the availability and use of self-help resources, recent efforts by the Legislature and courts to increase access to justice for unrepresented litigants, and the use of online dispute resolution.
• Evaluate the statutes prescribing fees in civil and criminal matters, and examine opportunities to simplify and improve the fee structure. Identify fees that may be challenged on grounds similar to those raised in Salinas v. Texas (Tex. Court of Crim. Apps., March 8, 2017), and recommend any necessary changes.
• Study the increased use of specialty courts across the state. Examine the role these courts play in the judicial system and recommend improvements to ensure they continue to be appropriately and successfully utilized.
• Examine the jurisdictional thresholds of the justice, county, and district courts, including how these limits and other factors impact the caseload of the courts. Study possible improvements in the efficient organization and operation of the court system.
• Monitor the ongoing efforts of the Office of Court Administration's guardianship compliance program, and consider additional methods to ensure that Texans placed under guardianship are protected from abuse.
• Monitor the implementation of the statewide electronic database of court records ("re:SearchTX").
• Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature.

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