Bill Text: TX HB970 | 2021-2022 | 87th Legislature | Introduced

Bill Title: Relating to prosecutorial transparency.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2021-04-19 - No action taken in committee [HB970 Detail]

Download: Texas-2021-HB970-Introduced.html
  87R3430 YDB-F
  By: Dutton H.B. No. 970
  relating to prosecutorial transparency.
         SECTION 1.  Subtitle C, Title 2, Government Code, is amended
  by adding Chapter 47 to read as follows:
         Sec. 47.0001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Case number" means the unique number assigned to
  a criminal case associated with a charged offense.
               (2)  "Charge" means an accusation by a prosecutor's
  office that an individual committed an offense, including a
  violation of an ordinance, an offense punishable by fine only, a
  misdemeanor, or a felony brought by ticket, citation, information,
  complaint, indictment, or other charging instrument.
               (3)  "Disposition" means the action concluding the
  prosecution of a charge, including an entry of nolle prosequi,
  diversion, dismissal, dismissal as part of plea bargain, conviction
  as part of plea bargain, conviction at trial, or acquittal.
               (4)  "Office" means the Office of Court Administration
  of the Texas Judicial System.
               (5)  "Policy" means any formal or informal policy,
  procedure, guideline, manual, training material, direction,
  instruction, or other information that contains guidance for
  employees of a prosecutor's office.
               (6)  "Prosecutor" means a district attorney, criminal
  district attorney, county attorney performing the duties of a
  district attorney, or municipal prosecutor.
               (7)  "Unique identifier" means a randomly generated
  number assigned in place of a defendant's name.
  PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE. (a) Except as provided by this section, a
  prosecutor's office shall collect the following information, as
  applicable, for each case presented to the office:
               (1)  the case number;
               (2)  the indictment number;
               (3)  the docket number;
               (4)  the unique identifier;
               (5)  the defendant's race;
               (6)  the defendant's gender;
               (7)  the defendant's disability status, including, as
  applicable, the status of the defendant as having:
                     (A)  an intellectual disability;
                     (B)  a physical disability; or
                     (C)  a sensory disability;
               (8)  the source of the information provided in
  Subdivision (7), including, as applicable:
                     (A)  the defendant's advocate or attorney;
                     (B)  observation by defense attorney; or
                     (C)  another source;
               (9)  the date the offense was committed or incident
               (10)  the arrest date;
               (11)  the district, precinct, or neighborhood of the
               (12)  the primary arresting law enforcement agency;
               (13)  other governmental agencies involved in the
               (14)  the charges listed on the arresting law
  enforcement agency's paperwork;
               (15)  if the prosecutor declines to prosecute an
  alleged offense, the reason for that decision;
               (16)  any charges filed by the prosecutor;
               (17)  the name of the prosecutor who approved each
  filed charge;
               (18)  the defendant's eligibility for court-appointed
  counsel and the proceeding in which that determination was made;
               (19)  the arraignment date;
               (20)  the date the charge was modified;
               (21)  the charge following any modification;
               (22)  whether diversion was offered;
               (23)  the date diversion was offered;
               (24)  the judge's position on diversion if stated on the
               (25)  whether the defendant accepted any diversion
               (26)  the diversion terms, including the amount of any
  fees the defendant is ordered to pay;
               (27)  whether the punishment for the offense prescribes
  a mandatory minimum sentence;
               (28)  whether the offense charged was eligible for
  punishment by death sentence;
               (29)  the prosecutor's recommendation on the amount of
  bail or bond, including release conditions;
               (30)  whether bail or bond was imposed on the
               (31)  whether bond was secured, unsecured, or payable
  from another type of arrangement;
               (32)  the date bail or bond was imposed;
               (33)  any court-ordered release conditions;
               (34)  the dates and length of any pretrial detention
  the defendant served;
               (35)  whether a risk assessment or other quantitative
  tool was used in determining pretrial detention or the amount of
  bail or bond and, if used:
                     (A)  the name of the office or agency that
  conducted the assessment; and
                     (B)  the name of offices, agencies, individuals,
  or attorneys that received the assessment results;
               (36)  whether any statutory or constitutional rights of
  defendants were waived by stipulation or in the court's record and,
  if waived:
                     (A)  the dates of the waiver;
                     (B)  the rights waived; and
                     (C)  whether and which rights were waived as a
  condition of a plea bargain;
               (37)  whether a plea was offered;
               (38)  whether a time limit for acceptance was included
  with a plea offer;
               (39)  the terms of all pleas offered to the defendant,
                     (A)  any charges dismissed;
                     (B)  the sentence ranges for charges dismissed;
                     (C)  the charges included in the plea;
                     (D)  the sentence ranges for charges included in
  the plea;
                     (E)  any charges included in the plea but not
  included in the convicted offenses; and
                     (F)  any punishment or sentence offered for
  accepting the plea;
               (40)  whether the plea was accepted or rejected;
               (41)  whether discovery was disclosed to the defense or
  defendant before the plea;
               (42)  the date discovery was disclosed to the defense
  or defendant;
               (43)  the judges presiding over pretrial proceedings;
               (44)  the case's disposition, including:
                     (A)  whether the case or charges were dismissed by
  the prosecutor or dismissed on the motion of the prosecutor and the
  reason for the dismissal;
                     (B)  the offenses of which the defendant was
                     (C)  if the defendant was convicted, whether by
  plea, jury trial, or bench trial; and
                     (D)  if a judge dismisses the case, the reason for
  the dismissal;
               (45)  the presiding judge at disposition;
               (46)  the disposition date;
               (47)  the sentence type, including fines, probation,
  suspended sentences, and incarceration;
               (48)  the sentence length;
               (49)  the presiding judge at sentencing;
               (50)  the supervision terms;
               (51)  any services required or provided to the defense
  or defendant;
               (52)  any fines, reimbursement fees, or court costs
  imposed; and
               (53)  any forfeiture of property required.
         (b)  The prosecutor's office shall maintain a record of the
  information required by Subsection (a) for each case until at least
  the 10th anniversary of the date the alleged offense for the case
  was committed.
         (c)  The prosecutor's office shall collect all office
  policies, including policies related to the following:
               (1)  case dismissal and charging of offenses;
               (2)  bail;
               (3)  sentencing;
               (4)  plea bargains;
               (5)  grand jury practices;
               (6)  discovery practices;
               (7)  witness treatment, including the timing and
  procedures to procure material witness warrants;
               (8)  the procedure for deciding whether to prosecute
  juveniles as adults;
               (9)  the manner in which fines, reimbursement fees, and
  court costs are assessed;
               (10)  asset forfeiture practices;
               (11)  mental health screening and history;
               (12)  substance abuse screening and history;
               (13)  domestic violence survivors;
               (14)  diversion practices;
               (15)  human resources, including hiring, evaluation,
  firing, promotion, and rotation among divisions or units in the
  prosecutor's office;
               (16)  internal discipline and related procedures;
               (17)  victim services;
               (18)  restorative justice programs;
               (19)  office trainings offered in the prosecutor's
  office in the preceding year;
               (20)  procedures for tracking and responding to
  incarcerated individuals' applications for parole or resentencing;
               (21)  vulnerable populations, including members of the
  immigrant, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer
         (d)  The prosecutor's office shall collect the following
  information for each attorney employed in the office with the name
  and other personally identifying information redacted or otherwise
  ensuring the anonymity of the attorney:
               (1)  age;
               (2)  gender;
               (3)  race;
               (4)  date hired;
               (5)  title; and
               (6)  disciplinary history.
         (e)  The prosecutor's office must collect the following
               (1)  the number of attorneys on staff;
               (2)  the average number of cases handled by an attorney
  each year;
               (3)  the number of attorneys who worked for the office
  in a temporary or contract capacity during the preceding calendar
               (4)  the number of paralegals and administrative staff
  employed by the office;
               (5)  the number of investigators who provided services
  to the office during the preceding calendar year;
               (6)  the number of experts who provided services to the
  office during the preceding calendar year; and
               (7)  the number of peace officers or detectives who
  work directly for the prosecutor's office.
  INFORMATION. (a) A prosecutor's office shall make publicly
  available the information required by Sections 47.0002(c)-(e) by:
               (1)  posting the information on the office's Internet
  website; and
               (2)  otherwise making the information available on
         (b)  The information made available under Subsection (a)
  must include the effective date of each policy or the date the
  information was gathered. The prosecutor's office at least
  annually shall post revised or newly drafted policies or newly
  collected information.
         (c)  A prosecutor's office that does not maintain a policy
  related to a topic listed in Section 47.0002(c) shall affirmatively
  disclose that fact.
         Sec. 47.0004.  REPORT OF CERTAIN INFORMATION TO OFFICE.  (a)  
  The office shall:
               (1)  establish a uniform and consistent method for a
  prosecutor's office to transmit the information required under
  Section 47.0002(a) to the office; and
               (2)  develop an implementation schedule and plan for
  all prosecutors' offices in this state to report the information
  required under Section 47.0002(a), which may include, as determined
  by the office, a staggered implementation that prioritizes a subset
  of the information or prioritizes reporting by prosecutors' offices
  from counties with the largest populations.
         (b)  In accordance with Subsection (a), on or before January
  31 of each year, a prosecutor's office shall transmit required
  information for the preceding calendar year that does not contain
  any personally identifying information about an individual
  arrested or prosecuted to the office.
  The office shall:
               (1)  on May 1 of each year, publish on the office's
  Internet website the information received from all prosecutors' 
  offices under Section 47.0004 in an open electronic format that is
  machine-readable, machine-searchable, and readily accessible to
  the public, provided the information does not contain personally
  identifying information about any individual arrested or
               (2)  on September 1 of each year, issue a report
  analyzing the information received from all prosecutors' offices
  that compares and contrasts the practices and trends among
  prosecutors' offices in this state and identifies any prosecutors'
  offices that are not in compliance with this chapter;
               (3)  biannually publish issue-specific reports with
  more in-depth analysis of one or more areas of prosecutorial
  decision-making; and
               (4)  annually publish at least one report focusing on
  racial disparities in prosecutorial decision-making.
         Sec. 47.0006.  ADVISORY BOARD. (a) An advisory board is
  established to advise the office under this chapter. The advisory
  board shall meet at least quarterly with the office to provide
  comments and guidance to the office on any draft rules, policies,
  plans, reports, or other decisions made by the office related to
  this chapter.
         (b)  The advisory board:
               (1)  is composed of at least seven members, appointed
  by the governor; and
               (2)  must include at least:
                     (A)  two members who are public defenders or other
  criminal defense attorneys; and
                     (B)  two members with direct experience as
  criminal defendants prosecuted under this state's criminal justice
         (c)  An advisory board member is not entitled to compensation
  for service on the advisory board.
         Sec. 47.0007.  NONCOMPLIANCE. Notwithstanding any other
  law, if the office determines that a prosecutor's office is not in
  compliance with this chapter, the prosecutor's office is ineligible
  to receive funding from this state's general revenue fund or other
  fund or any state grant program administered by the attorney
  general or other entity controlling grants to the prosecutor's
  office. The office shall inform the comptroller and the
  Legislative Budget Board of the ineligibility. Eligibility for
  funding may be restored only after:
               (1)  the prosecutor's office fully complies with this
  chapter and provides the required information; and
               (2)  the office certifies that the prosecutor's office
  is in compliance with this chapter.
         Sec. 47.0008.  RELATION TO PUBLIC RECORDS ACTS. (a)
  Notwithstanding any other law, a prosecutor's office that is in
  compliance with this chapter and that receives a request for
  information under Chapter 552 that the prosecutor's office
  reasonably and in good faith believes can be satisfied by reference
  to information publicly available under this chapter may satisfy
  the obligation under Chapter 552 by referring the requesting party
  to the Internet website that contains the information. The
  prosecutor's office is not required to otherwise collect and
  disclose the requested information.
         (b)  A requesting party that does not agree that the party's
  request can be satisfied with information collected under this
  chapter and published on the relevant website may file suit in
  accordance with Chapter 552 to compel disclosure.
         SECTION 2.  (a) Not later than December 1, 2021, the
  governor shall make the initial appointments to the advisory board
  established under Section 47.0006, Government Code, as added by
  this Act.
         (b)  Not later than March 1, 2022, a prosecutor's office
  shall post on the Internet website for the office the initial
  information as required by Section 47.0003, Government Code, as
  added by this Act.
         (c)  Not later than September 1, 2022, the Office of Court
  Administration of the Texas Judicial System shall make the
  determinations required under Section 47.0004(a), Government Code,
  as added by this Act.
         (d)  Not later than May 1, 2023, the Office of Court
  Administration of the Texas Judicial System shall post on the
  office's Internet website the initial information required under
  Section 47.0005(1), Government Code, as added by this Act.
         (e)  Not later than September 1, 2023, the Office of Court
  Administration of the Texas Judicial System shall produce the
  initial reports required under Sections 47.0005(2), (3), and (4),
  Government Code, as added by this Act.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.