Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2676
By: Truitt
Criminal Jurisprudence


In 1995, the 74th Legislature established child fatality review teams,
which have been influential in promoting positive systemic changes
responsible for a decrease in incidents of child death and an improvement
in the treatment of children by state and local agencies that provide
services and assistance to children.  The creation of a similar team to
review domestic violence deaths could help  to decrease the number of
deaths which result from domestic violence and provide improved services to
victims.  The Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) estimates that
857,745 women were victims of domestic violence during the fiscal year
2000, and yet only 41,203 women, or about five percent of those in need,
received family violence services from DHS that same year.  Determining how
a death may  have been prevented and identifying ways in which services to
victims are lacking may contribute to decreasing the incidence of  deaths
resulting from domestic violence in the future.  House Bill 2676 authorizes
the establishment of a domestic violence fatality review team in certain


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


House Bill 2676 amends the Family Code to authorize a multidisciplinary and
multiagency domestic violence fatality review team to be established in a
county with a population of one million or more   to review domestic
violence and unexpected deaths in the county for the purpose of decreasing
the incidence of preventable domestic violence deaths.  To achieve its
purpose, a review team is required to:  

_develop and implement protocols and procedures for handling each domestic
violence fatality case; 

_investigate ways to implement the recommendations made by the team;

_meet on a regular basis to review domestic violence fatality cases and
recommend methods to improve the coordination of services and
investigations between agencies that are represented on the team; 

_collect and maintain data; 

_submit to the bureau of vital statistics of the Texas Department of Health
reports on deaths reviewed by the team; and 

_initiate prevention measures as indicated by the review team's findings. 

The bill sets forth provisions relating to the establishment, composition,
and designation and duties of the presiding officer of a review team.  To
the extent necessary, the commissioners court for the county is  required
to determine the method for funding the review team (Secs.  93.002-93.004).
The bill requires a review team to review injuries, illnesses, or events
that were the cause of a death,  
as stated on the person's death certificate, that occurs in the county.  A
review team is authorized to request certain records and other information
regarding a deceased person as necessary to carry out the review team's
purpose and duties.  The bill authorizes information relating to the mental
health or medical condition of a member of the deceased person's family or
of any alleged or suspected perpetrator of abuse obtained as part of an
investigation by a state agency or an agency of a political subdivision of
the state to be provided to the review team, but does not authorize the
release of records of such information already in the possession of a state
agency (Secs.  93.005 and 93.006).   

The bill provides that a meeting of the review team is closed to the public
and is not subject to provisions relating to open meetings.  The bill
prohibits a member of a review team and any other  person attending a
review team meeting from disclosing what occurred at the meeting, except as
necessary to carry out a review team's purpose and duties (Sec. 93.007). 

The bill provides that records and other information acquired by a review
team are confidential and authorizes disclosure of such records or
information only as necessary to carry out the review team's purpose or
duties.  The bill prohibits a member of a review team from disclosing any
information that is confidential and provides that a person commits a Class
A misdemeanor if the person discloses such confidential information (Sec.

The bill provides that a review team is a governmental unit and a unit of
local government for the purposes of the Texas Tort Claims Act (Sec.


September 1, 2001.