Low or No Cost Things to Do With Your Kids In Denton County

During the school year, kids are so busy through the week that their free time largely consists of two days – the weekend. Summer poses a far different situation. Denton County kids spend several months at home before the school year picks back up in the fall. This often leads to the inevitable complaint that plagues parents across the country. …

Fun & Free Things To Do With Your Juvenile In Collin County

Here we go again. More advice from a juvenile defense attorney about ways to keep your juvenile entertained in Collin County; but – if kids are busy and happy then there’s less a chance they’re going to get in trouble. During the school year, kids are so busy with homework and extracurricular activities that only the weekend remains for having …

State Asserts Closer Control Over Judges

A new law seeks to make judges and their staffs more accountable to the people whose rights they supposedly protect. Effective September 1, Senate Bill 966 sets up the Judicial Branch Certification Commission. This body will establish certification and continuing education requirements for both judges and non-judicial staff. In addition, the Commission will deal with any public complaints about any …

More Training Means Better Lawyers

Beginning September 1, thanks to a new law, court-appointed attorneys may be better prepared to defend their clients. House Bill 1245 significantly expanded Section 56.004 of the Government Code. Now, in addition to providing continuing education funds to indigent defense attorneys, the state will make money available to the attorneys’ staff, including paraprofessional and other workers. The Court of Criminal …

Remaking the Classroom

In a sweeping measure that affects many Texas families, the Legislature recently overhauled the state’s high school curriculum requirements. Background Twenty-nine years ago, the Legislature passed the highly-controversial House Bill 72, with its so-called “no-pass, no-play” rule. The idea was that education should not take a backseat to football and other extra-curricular activities. There have been some lapses – after …

New Area Juvenile Courts Begin Hearing Cases

Dallas suburbs continue to grow, and the judicial infrastructure is expanding to meet the need. House Bill 3153 creates two new juvenile courts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area: the 442nd District Court in Denton County and the 443rd District Court in Ellis County. Judge Cindy Ermatinger of Midlothian lowered the gavel for the first time on September 2 in the …

Legislature Asserts More Oversight Over Indigent Defense

Over a decade after the infamous “sleeping lawyer” case, the Texas Legislature took action to help ensure these things don’t happen in juvenile court. 2002’s Cockrell v. Burdine stemmed from Mr. Burdine’s 1994 murder trial. In his appeal, he stated that his court-appointed lawyer, Joe Cannon, slept during parts of the six-day trial. Mr. Cannon, who had passed away before …

Is Juvenile Jail “Backfiring?”

Longer sentences are not an effective deterrent to juvenile crime. Recent research has debunked the myth that juveniles can be “scared straight” by stiff sentences and alternative punishments. One study found that both rearrest and reincarceration rates were significantly lower for juveniles when compared with adult criminals. Another study concluded that, on average, juveniles who were transferred to adult criminal …

1998 Juvenile Case Re-Opened as a Full Criminal Prosecution

A 39-year-old Conroe man recently pleaded not guilty to murder charges, stemming from a juvenile crime incident in 1998. Authorities allege that, when he was 13 years old, Don Collins doused then eight-year-old Robert Middleton with gasoline, and set him on fire. Mr. Collins initially spent several months in a detention facility, before being released because prosecutors said they lacked …

Juvenile Court Hearing Records Kept Private

A Tarrant County judge closed a juvenile court proceeding involving a 16-year-old, and the news media wants to know what happened behind closed doors. Citing “the public’s right to know what goes on in our courts,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and other media outlets recently filed a civil action against state District Judge Jean Boyd. Last January, Judge Boyd closed …