Texas: after 20+ years of trying and failing to merge Supreme Court/Court of Criminal Appeals, legislator wants Texas Judicial Council to weigh in

Texas is one of two states (Oklahoma is the other) that has two separate courts of last resort: a Supreme Court (civil) and a Court of Criminal Appeals. The last 20 years have seen numerous efforts in Texas to merge the two or simply eliminate the Court of Criminal Appeals (details of all prior efforts here). Most haven’t even gotten to a committee hearing. This year, however, rather than attempting to directly merge/eliminate one senator wants to at least study the issue and have the judiciary weigh in.

Under SB 443 the Texas Judicial Council would be required to research the topic and make recommendations, including possibly consolidation/abolishment, and report by December 2016 for the 2017 legislative session (Texas’ legislature only meets every other year). If the recommendation is consolidation/abolishment the Council would also have to provide a transition plan.

SB 443 has been assigned to the Senate State Affairs Committee.