Texas Senate committee approves bill to require problem solving courts register with the Governor

Problem solving courts have been around for decades, but a question that often arises is who has what; does Superior Court in County X have a drug court? How about District Court in County Y? Often these courts are created locally with no central registry of such programs in a state.

Under Texas SB 462 just such a registry would be created for “specialty courts”, such as drug courts, veterans courts, and mental health courts. No “specialty court” would be allowed to operate without first registering the program with the governor. In addition, the program would have to comply with best practices set by the Governor’s Specialty Courts Advisory Council and approved by the Judicial Council (the original version required compliance with standards set by the criminal justice division of the governor’s office).

Moreover, the membership of the Advisory Council would be changed: current law provides for 7 members: 3 judges with experience in specialty courts and 4 members of the public. SB 462 changes it to 9 members: 4 judges (1 each with experience in family drug court, drug court, veterans court, and mental health court programs) and 5 members of the public.

SB 462 was approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on March 18.