Bill Text: TX SB690 | 2021-2022 | 87th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to remotely conducting court proceedings in this state.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 2-0)

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2021-04-22 - Left pending in committee [SB690 Detail]

Download: Texas-2021-SB690-Introduced.html
 
 
  By: Zaffirini S.B. No. 690
 
 
 
   
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to remotely conducting court proceedings in this state.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
  ARTICLE 1. REMOTE PROCEEDINGS
         SECTION 1.001.  Section 21.009, Government Code, is amended
  by adding Subdivision (5) to read as follows:
               (5)  "Remote proceeding" means a proceeding before a
  court in which one or more of the participants, including a judge,
  party, attorney, witness, court reporter, juror, or other
  individual, attends the proceeding remotely through the use of
  technology and the Internet.
         SECTION 1.002.  Chapter 21, Government Code, is amended by
  adding Section 21.013 to read as follows:
         Sec. 21.013.  OPTION FOR REMOTE PROCEEDING. (a)
  Notwithstanding any other law, a court in this state on the court's
  own motion or on the motion of any party may:
               (1)  conduct a hearing or other proceeding as a remote
  proceeding without the consent of the parties unless the United
  States Constitution or Texas Constitution requires consent; and
               (2)  allow or require a judge, party, attorney,
  witness, court reporter, juror, or any other individual to
  participate in a remote proceeding, including a deposition,
  hearing, trial, or other proceeding.
         (b)  In any criminal proceeding that under the United States
  Constitution or Texas Constitution requires the consent of the
  parties for the proceeding to be conducted as a remote proceeding,
  the prosecutor and defendant must each consent for the proceeding
  to be conducted as a remote proceeding. If the prosecutor or
  defendant does not consent, the proceeding may not be held as a
  remote proceeding.
         (c)  For a jury trial that is to be conducted as a remote
  proceeding, a court shall:
               (1)  consider on the record any motion or objection
  related to proceeding with the trial not later than the seventh day
  before the trial date, except that if the motion or objection is
  made later than the seventh day before the trial date, the court
  must consider the motion or objection on the record as soon as
  practicable; and
               (2)  ensure all prospective jurors have access to the
  technology necessary to participate in the remote proceeding.
         (d)  If a remote proceeding is conducted away from the
  court's usual location, the court must provide reasonable notice to
  the public and an opportunity to observe the proceeding.
         (e)  The Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial
  System shall provide guidance and assistance to the extent possible
  to a court conducting a remote proceeding.
         (f)  For purposes of any law requiring notice or citation of
  the time and place for a proceeding, notice of the remote means by
  which the proceeding will be conducted and the method for accessing
  the proceeding through that remote means constitutes notice of the
  place for the proceeding.
  ARTICLE 2. CONFORMING CHANGES
         SECTION 2.001.  Section 30.012(a), Civil Practice and
  Remedies Code, is amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject [With the agreement of the parties, and subject]
  to Section 21.013, Government Code [Subsection (b)], a trial judge
  may order that a hearing of a preliminary matter or witness
  testimony at trial may be conducted by electronic means, including
  satellite transmission, closed-circuit television transmission, or
  any other method of two-way electronic communication that is
  available to the parties, approved by the court, and capable of
  visually and audibly recording the proceedings.
         SECTION 2.002.  Article 27.18(a), Code of Criminal
  Procedure, is amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, Government Code, and
  notwithstanding [Notwithstanding] any provision of this code
  requiring that a plea or a waiver of a defendant's right be made in
  open court, a court may accept the plea or waiver by videoconference
  to the court if:
               (1)  [the defendant and the attorney representing the
  state file with the court written consent to the use of
  videoconference;
               [(2)]  the videoconference provides for a
  simultaneous, compressed full motion video, and interactive
  communication of image and sound between the judge, the attorney
  representing the state, the defendant, and the defendant's
  attorney; and
               (2) [(3)]  on request of the defendant, the defendant
  and the defendant's attorney are able to communicate privately
  without being recorded or heard by the judge or the attorney
  representing the state.
         SECTION 2.003.  Section 53.102(a), Estates Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (a)  If a judge is unable to designate the time and place, or
  the time and remote means in accordance with Section 21.013,
  Government Code, for hearing a probate matter pending in the
  judge's court because the judge [is absent from the county seat or]
  is on vacation, disqualified, ill, or deceased, the county clerk of
  the county in which the matter is pending may:
               (1)  designate the time and place, or the time and
  remote means in accordance with Section 21.013, Government Code,
  for the hearing;
               (2)  enter the setting on the judge's docket; and
               (3)  certify on the docket the reason that the judge is
  not acting to set the hearing.
         SECTION 2.004.  Section 1053.102(a), Estates Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  If a judge is unable to designate the time and place, or
  the time and remote means in accordance with Section 21.013,
  Government Code, for hearing a guardianship proceeding pending in
  the judge's court because the judge [is absent from the county seat
  or] is on vacation, disqualified, ill, or deceased, the county
  clerk of the county in which the proceeding is pending may:
               (1)  designate the time and place, or the time and
  remote means in accordance with Section 21.013, Government Code,
  for the hearing;
               (2)  enter the setting on the judge's docket; and
               (3)  certify on the docket the reason that the judge is
  not acting to set the hearing.
         SECTION 2.005.  Section 1055.053, Estates Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         Sec. 1055.053.  LOCATION OR MEANS OF HEARING. (a) Except as
  provided by Subsection (b), the judge may hold a hearing on a
  guardianship proceeding involving an adult ward or adult proposed
  ward at any suitable location in the county in which the
  guardianship proceeding is pending or as a remote proceeding as
  authorized by Section 21.013, Government Code. The hearing should
  be held in a physical setting that is not likely to have a harmful
  effect on the ward or proposed ward.
         (b)  On the request of the adult proposed ward, the adult
  ward, or the attorney of the proposed ward or ward, the hearing may
  not be held under the authority of this section at a place other
  than the courthouse except as authorized by Section 21.013,
  Government Code.
         SECTION 2.006.  Section 51.115(c), Family Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (c)  A person required under this section to attend a hearing
  is entitled to reasonable written or oral notice that includes a
  statement of the location of, subject to Section 21.013, Government
  Code, and the [place,] date[,] and time of, the hearing and that the
  attendance of the person is required. The notice may be included
  with or attached to any other notice required by this chapter to be
  given the person. Separate notice is not required for a disposition
  hearing that convenes on the adjournment of an adjudication
  hearing. If a person required under this section fails to attend a
  hearing, the juvenile court may proceed with the hearing.
         SECTION 2.007.  Section 54.012(a), Family Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, Government Code, a [A]
  detention hearing under Section 54.01 may be held using interactive
  video equipment if[:
               [(1)  the child and the child's attorney agree to the
  video hearing; and
               [(2)]  the parties to the proceeding have the
  opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.
         SECTION 2.008.  Sections 22.202(a) and (g), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the First Court of Appeals District shall be held in the City of
  Houston.
         (g)  The First Court of Appeals may transact its business in
  any county in the First Court of Appeals District as the court
  determines necessary and convenient or as provided by Section
  21.013.
         SECTION 2.009.  Sections 22.203(a) and (b), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Second Court of Appeals District shall be held in the City
  of Fort Worth.
         (b)  The court may transact its business in any county in the
  district as the court determines is necessary or convenient or as
  provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.010.  Sections 22.204(a) and (b), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Third Court of Appeals District shall be held in the City of
  Austin.
         (b)  The court may transact its business:
               (1)  at the county seat of any of the counties within
  its district as the court determines is necessary and convenient,
  except that all cases originating in Travis County shall be heard
  and transacted in that county, subject to Subdivision (2); or
               (2)  as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.011.  Section 22.205, Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         Sec. 22.205.  FOURTH COURT OF APPEALS. (a) Subject to
  Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals for the Fourth Court of
  Appeals District shall be held in the City of San Antonio.
         (b)  The court may transact its business:
               (1)  at the county seat of any of the counties within
  its district, as the court determines is necessary and convenient,
  except that all cases originating in Bexar County that the court
  hears shall be heard and transacted in that county, subject to
  Subdivision (2); or
               (2)  as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.012.  Sections 22.206(a) and (b), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Fifth Court of Appeals District shall be primarily held in
  the City of Dallas.
         (b)  The court may transact its business in any county in the
  district as the court determines is necessary and convenient or as
  provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.013.  Section 22.207, Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         Sec. 22.207.  SIXTH COURT OF APPEALS. (a) Subject to
  Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals for the Sixth Court of
  Appeals District shall be held in the City of Texarkana.
         (b)  The court may transact its business:
               (1)  in the City of Texarkana or the county seat of any
  county in the district as the court determines is necessary or
  convenient, except that all cases originating in Bowie County shall
  be heard and transacted in the City of Texarkana, subject to
  Subdivision (2); or
               (2)  as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.014.  Section 22.208, Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         Sec. 22.208.  SEVENTH COURT OF APPEALS. Subject to Section
  21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals for the Seventh Court of Appeals
  District shall be held in the City of Amarillo.
         SECTION 2.015.  Section 22.209, Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         Sec. 22.209.  EIGHTH COURT OF APPEALS. (a) Subject to
  Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals for the Eighth Court of
  Appeals District shall be held in the City of El Paso.
         (b)  The court may transact its business:
               (1)  at the county seat of any county in the district as
  the court determines is necessary and convenient, except all cases
  originating in El Paso County shall be heard and transacted in that
  county, subject to Subdivision (2); or
               (2)  as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.016.  Sections 22.210(a) and (c), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Ninth Court of Appeals District shall be held in the City of
  Beaumont.
         (c)  The court may transact its business in the City of
  Beaumont or the county seat of any county in the district as the
  court determines is necessary or convenient, or as provided by
  Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.017.  Section 22.211(a), Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Tenth Court of Appeals District shall be held in the City of
  Waco or in the county seat of any county located within the Tenth
  Court of Appeals District.
         SECTION 2.018.  Sections 22.212(a) and (c), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Eleventh Court of Appeals District shall be held in the City
  of Eastland.
         (c)  The court may transact its business in the City of
  Eastland or in any county in the district as the court determines is
  necessary or convenient, or as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.019.  Sections 22.213(a) and (c), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Twelfth Court of Appeals District shall be held in the City
  of Tyler.
         (c)  The court may transact its business:
               (1)  in the City of Tyler or at the county seat of any
  county in the district as the court determines is necessary or
  convenient, except that all cases originating in Smith County shall
  be heard and transacted in the City of Tyler, subject to Subdivision
  (2); or
               (2)  as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.020.  Sections 22.214(a) and (c), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Thirteenth Court of Appeals District shall be held in the
  City of Corpus Christi and the City of Edinburg.
         (c)  The court may transact its business:
               (1)  subject to Subdivision (2), at the county seat of
  any county in the district as the court determines is necessary and
  convenient, except that:
                     (A) [(1)]  all cases originating in Nueces County
  shall be heard and transacted in Nueces County, subject to
  Subdivision (2); and
                     (B) [(2)]  all cases originating in Cameron,
  Hidalgo, or Willacy County shall be heard and transacted in
  Cameron, Hidalgo, or Willacy County, subject to Subdivision (2); or
               (2)  as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.021.  Sections 22.215(a) and (c), Government Code,
  are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, the [The] Court of Appeals
  for the Fourteenth Court of Appeals District shall be held in the
  City of Houston.
         (c)  The Fourteenth Court of Appeals may transact its
  business in any county in the First Court of Appeals District as the
  court determines necessary and convenient or as provided by Section
  21.013.
         SECTION 2.022.  Subchapter A, Chapter 24, Government Code,
  is amended by adding Section 24.0301 to read as follows:
         Sec. 24.0301.  REMOTE PROCEEDINGS. Notwithstanding Section
  24.030 or any other provision of this chapter requiring a district
  court to sit and conduct the court's proceedings in a specified
  county or municipality, a district court may conduct the court's
  proceedings as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.023.  Section 25.0001(a), Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
           (a)  This subchapter applies to each statutory county
  court in this state. Except as provided by Section 25.00105, if
  [If] a provision of this subchapter conflicts with a specific
  provision for a particular court or county, the specific provision
  controls.
         SECTION 2.024.  Subchapter A, Chapter 25, Government Code,
  is amended by adding Section 25.00105 to read as follows:
         Sec. 25.00105.  REMOTE PROCEEDINGS. Notwithstanding any
  other law, including a specific provision in this chapter for a
  particular court or county that requires a statutory county court
  to sit and conduct the court's proceedings at the county seat, a
  statutory county court may conduct the court's proceedings as
  provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.025.  Subchapter B, Chapter 25, Government Code,
  is amended by adding Section 25.00305 to read as follows:
         Sec. 25.00305.  REMOTE PROCEEDINGS. Notwithstanding any
  other law, including a specific provision in this chapter for a
  particular court or county that requires a statutory probate court
  to sit and conduct the court's proceedings at the county seat, a
  statutory probate court may conduct the court's proceedings as
  provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.026.  Section 26.002(c), Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (c)  All terms of court must be held at the county seat,
  except that the court may conduct the court's proceedings as
  provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.027.  Section 27.051(b), Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (b)  Subject to Section 21.013:
               (1)  each [Each] justice shall hold the regular term of
  court at the justice's office at times prescribed by the
  commissioners court; and
               (2)  the[. The] commissioners court shall set the time
  and place for holding justice court.
         SECTION 2.028.  Section 30.00001(c), Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (c)  Except as provided by Section 30.00138(b)(2), if [If] a
  provision of this subchapter conflicts with a specific provision
  for a particular municipality, the specific provision controls.
         SECTION 2.029.  Section 30.00138, Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 30.00138.  TERM OF COURT. (a) The appellate court may
  sit for the transaction of business at any time during the year, and
  each term begins and ends with the calendar year.
         (b)  The appellate court may:
               (1)  use the city council chambers or other appropriate
  location as its courtroom for argument of cases and other court
  matters; or
               (2)  conduct proceedings as provided by Section 21.013.
         SECTION 2.030.  Sections 573.012(a) and (h), Health and
  Safety Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (h) and Section 21.013,
  Government Code, an applicant for emergency detention must present
  the application personally to a judge or magistrate.  The judge or
  magistrate shall examine the application and may interview the
  applicant.  Except as provided by Subsection (g), the judge of a
  court with probate jurisdiction by administrative order may provide
  that the application must be:
               (1)  presented personally to the court; or
               (2)  retained by court staff and presented to another
  judge or magistrate as soon as is practicable if the judge of the
  court is not available at the time the application is presented.
         (h)  A judge or magistrate may permit an applicant [who is a
  physician] to present an application by:
               (1)  e-mail with the application attached as a secure
  document in a portable document format (PDF); or
               (2)  subject to Section 21.013, Government
  Code, secure electronic means, including:
                     (A)  satellite transmission;
                     (B)  closed-circuit television transmission; or
                     (C)  any other method of two-way electronic
  communication that:
                           (i)  is secure;
                           (ii)  is available to the judge or
  magistrate; and
                           (iii)  provides for a simultaneous,
  compressed full-motion video and interactive communication of
  image and sound between the judge or magistrate and the applicant.
         SECTION 2.031.  Sections 574.031(a) and (b), Health and
  Safety Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b), the judge may hold
  a hearing on an application for court-ordered mental health
  services at any suitable location in the county or as a remote
  proceeding as authorized by Section 21.013, Government Code. The
  hearing should be held in a physical setting that is not likely to
  have a harmful effect on the proposed patient.
         (b)  On the request of the proposed patient or the proposed
  patient's attorney the hearing on the application shall be held in
  the county courthouse except as authorized by Section 21.013,
  Government Code.
         SECTION 2.032.  Section 574.203(a), Health and Safety Code,
  is amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Subject to Section 21.013, Government Code, a [A]
  hearing may be conducted in accordance with this chapter but
  conducted by secure electronic means, including satellite
  transmission, closed-circuit television transmission, or any other
  method of two-way electronic communication that is secure,
  available to the parties, approved by the court, and capable of
  visually and audibly recording the proceedings, if:
               (1)  [written consent to the use of a secure electronic
  communication method for the hearing is filed with the court by:
                     [(A)  the proposed patient or the attorney
  representing the proposed patient; and
                     [(B)  the county or district attorney, as
  appropriate;
               [(2)]  the secure electronic communication method
  provides for a simultaneous, compressed full-motion video, and
  interactive communication of image and sound among the judge or
  associate judge, the county or district attorney, the attorney
  representing the proposed patient, and the proposed patient; and
               (2) [(3)]  on request of the proposed patient or the
  attorney representing the proposed patient, the proposed patient
  and the attorney can communicate privately without being recorded
  or heard by the judge or associate judge or by the county or
  district attorney.
         SECTION 2.033.  Section 292.001(d), Local Government Code,
  is amended to read as follows:
         (d)  A justice of the peace court may not be housed or
  conducted in a building located outside the court's precinct except
  as provided by Section 21.013, 27.051(f), or 27.0515, Government
  Code, or unless the justice of the peace court is situated in the
  county courthouse in a county with a population of at least 275,000
  persons but no more than 285,000 persons.
         SECTION 2.034.  The following provisions are repealed:
               (1)  Section 30.012(b), Civil Practice and Remedies
  Code; and
               (2)  Section 54.012(b), Family Code.
  ARTICLE 3. EFFECTIVE DATE
         SECTION 3.001.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.
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