Most, if not all states in the country, with the exception of Texas which continues to lead the nation in job growth, have abandoned the procedure of allowing judge-appointed commissioners to nominate jurors. For instance, California discontinued this method for criminal cases back in the year 2000 but they raised taxes on themselves which only gave the politicians that run that state more money to waste.
Texas, however, continues to abide by this method of selecting Jury, which the US Supreme Court deems as a method that is susceptible to abuse. The problem with selecting a jury this way lies in the fact that the commissioners that nominate the jury members often select people with similar back grounds as themselves which leads to the majority of the jury being constituted of people with pro-law enforcement standpoints.
Time for change in Texas criminal justice system according to some
The federal courts stopped using this method for the same reasons almost 40 years ago, some people believe that it is high time that Texas follows the lead of other states in the country and revolutionizes its criminal justice system, thereby giving the system, a chance to be fair and balanced. Among these people is criminal defense attorney Robert Sanger who was involved in filing the initial lawsuit that has bought the issue to attention. He clearly expressed his disappointment with the current system in an interview.
But there are two sides to every coin, some people are opposed to this change and they argue that changing Texas’ criminal grand jury would be an utter failure due to the non-availability of people selected at random that actually have the time to commit.
States that have adopted the random jury system have made certain amendments to ensure availability of jurors, for example, Lake County and Illinois provides child care for juniors, in fact, Arizona pays the jurors up to $300 a day to compensate them for their time. But this is still enough for people who run their own business. In fact, there is people who do not vote just to avoid having to be called to be a juror.
An example that proponents of this new law like to use
A criminal case that has resurfaced and in the limelight again due to the biased perception of a key man jury system is none other than the case of Alfred Brown and his criminal defense attorney who initially lost the case. Brown was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2003 killing of a police officer but the grand jury testimony showed an officer in the jury was involved in manipulating Brown’s alibi witness to change her story. His appeal is on-going.
How often does this happen though?
Amendments to Section 38.15, Penal Code, to come into effect September 1st, 2015
Amendments have been made to Section 38.15 of the Texas Constitution and Statutes with reference to Obstructing Governmental Operation. The Act related to the offense of interfering with public duties has had subsections (b) and (e) amended while Subsections (f) and (g) have been added. Under Section 38.15 Subsection (b), interfering with public duties is a Class B misdemeanor except that an offense against a peace officer while performing his/her duty or exercising authority granted by law stated in subsection (a)(1) which is a Class A misdemeanor.
According to Texas criminal defense attorneys, amendments in the law made by the Act will be applicable only to offenses committed on or after September 1st, 2015. Any offense committed before will be governed by the law in effect currently.
For answers to your legal questions regarding a criminal or dui matter, speak with John L. Corn Attorney At Law.