Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Justice of the Peace Courts' Jurisdiction in Criminal Proceedings "do not include confinement"

Dear State Representative Solomon P Ortiz Jr.,

As South Texas and HD #33 remain in anticipation of your response to the email communication regarding Texas Education Code 25.093 specifically and the Texas Education Code 25, another issue has been brought to my attention regarding the JP Courts Jurisdiction in Criminal Proceedings that are punishable by fine only

This is the preface of the JP Court illustrated below in the image entitled Court Structure of Texas according to The Official Website of Texas Courts

Court Structure of Texas

And also according to the The Handbook of Texas Online

Justice of the Peace Courts have jurisdiction over criminal offenses that are
punishable by fine only, and over civil cases in which the amount in
controversy is small (not more than $5,000 in 1995).





(c)  An indigent defendant is entitled to have an attorney
appointed to represent him in any adversary judicial proceeding
that may result in punishment by confinement and in any other
criminal proceeding if the court concludes that the interests of
justice require representation.
Except as otherwise provided by
this subsection, if an indigent defendant is entitled to and
requests appointed counsel and if adversarial judicial proceedings
have been initiated against the defendant, a court or the courts'
designee authorized under Article 26.04 to appoint counsel for
indigent defendants in the county shall appoint counsel as soon as
possible, but not later than the end of the third working day after
the date on which the court or the courts' designee receives the
defendant's request for appointment of counsel. In a county with a
population of 250,000 or more, the court or the courts' designee
shall appoint counsel as required by this subsection as soon as
possible, but not later than the end of the first working day after
the date on which the court or the courts' designee receives the
defendant's request for appointment of counsel.

Please note the limitation operatives under Art. 4.11

"not consisting of confinement or imprisonment"


"do not include confinement"



Art. 4.11. [60] [106] [96] JURISDICTION OF JUSTICE
COURTS. (a) Justices of the peace shall have original jurisdiction
in criminal cases:
(1) punishable by fine only or punishable by:
(A) a fine; and
(B) as authorized by statute, a sanction not consisting of
confinement or imprisonment; or
(2) arising under Chapter 106, Alcoholic Beverage Code,
that do not include confinement as an authorized sanction.
(b) The fact that a conviction in a justice court has as a
consequence the imposition of a penalty or sanction by an agency or
entity other than the court, such as a denial, suspension, or
revocation of a privilege, does not affect the original
jurisdiction of the justice court.

Acts 1965, 59th Leg., vol. 2, p. 317, ch. 722, eff. Jan. 1, 1966.
Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 108, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1,
1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 449, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995;
1997, 75th Leg., ch. 533, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997,
75th Leg., ch. 1013, Sec. 38, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

However, the Justice Courts are punishing by confinement.

The Justice Courts are not appointing Attorneys for indigent defendants involved in adversarial judicial proceedings that are resulting in punishment by confinement.

In Nueces County, the Justice of the Peace Judges are not licensed
attorneys nor is the Justice Court a Court of Record Court.

A Court of Record is defined as:

  • A court in which the proceedings are recorded, transcribed, and maintained as permanent records.
  • A court whose acts and proceedings are recorded and preserved.
  • In common law jurisdictions, a court of record is a court that keeps permanent records of its proceedings. Judgments of a trial court of record are normally subject to appellate review. In many jurisdictions, all courts are courts of record. In many jurisdictions, courts that have the power to fine or imprison must be courts of record.

  • There is no recourse.

    There is no accountability.

    One other issue is the counting of a certain number of tardies as an absence and the absence is counted towards a truancy absence. There is not a provision for this illegal manipulation so as to prosecute. This prosecution under 25.093 and 25.094 can be easily proven if necessary.

    To quote a Nueces County District Judge, "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied" as our HD #33 Representative we ask for emergency intervention and reform of this bad law. This is an appeal to you from South Texas. Do we really need to collect letters and signatures for our South Texas Delegation to take immediate action?


    Anton S Haley

    1 comment:

    Jaime Kenedeño said...

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