Texas: bill would strengthen court security in state; sheriffs would be required to report court security incidents to state OCA

The Texas Judicial Council’s package of legislation to address court security in the state has now been filed for the 2017 session. The package comes about from a review of security in the state 10 years after an original study on the subject. The 2016 study found that many of the same issues reported in the 2006 report remain.

SB 42 as filed makes numerous changes to laws related to court security, including

  • Provides the sheriff or other law enforcement agency or entity that provides security for a court shall provide to the Office of Court Administration a written report regarding any court/courthouse security incident. A 2007 law currently places that responsibility on the local administrative judge.
  • Requires Municipal Court Judges and Local Administrative Judges create court security committees.
  • Creates a┬áJudicial Security Division of the Office of Court Administration to help local courts address security needs.
  • Require all those providing court security be specifically certified in court security practices and procedures by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
  • Provides the state Department of Public Safety may provide personal security for state judges that have been threatened or attacked.
  • Allow judges to remove for themselves and their spouses their home addresses and other personal information from public records required to file for office.
  • Allow spouses to remove personal information from appraisal records and county deeds.
  • Retroactively and prospectively removes all personal addresses from Texas Ethics Commission online searches.

SB 42 has been prefiled for the 2017 session and not yet assigned to a committee.