Lawmaker seeks transparency over special courts

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Associated Press

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Houston lawmaker has introduced a bill that she says will bring great transparency to special courts that are popping up around the state.

State Sen. Joan Huffman filed the legislation on Monday for consideration before the full Texas Legislature.

More and more communities are establishing so-called special courts to deal with non-violent defendants and steer them out of the criminal justice system. Recent examples include special courts for veterans whose crimes may be related to post-traumatic stress or other issues.

Huffman notes that a decade ago only nine special courts existed and now there are 140. Her bill would require special courts to register with the governor's Criminal Justice Division and follow established best practices.

The state will also collect data to make sure the courts are effective.

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