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A.G. Opinion GA0067 is causing me headaches. Our J.P.'s have always proceeded on prose bench trials by allowing the officer to testify and then ruling. With no record and an automatic appeal, it sure seems a waste of time and money to provide a prosecutor for these trials. Ideas?
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Odessa, Texas, USA | Registered: June 10, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I feel your pain. I'm the only misdemeanor prosecutor in my county, handling four JP's as well as county court.

My understanding is the State must be represented. I'm assuming to bring more formality to the procedings.

What I'm seeing alot is having to prosecute in JP, only to see the Defendant apeal up to county court -- hence me having to deal with the same case twice.

Does anybody try to plea any JP cases prior to trial by offering deferred (when applicable)? If so, how is that working out?
 
Posts: 7 | Location: Wharton, Texas | Registered: January 20, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When I was in Hood county, we'd have a before trial setting where any defendant that wanted a jury trial could meet with myself, the officer, and the defense attorney should there be one. The officers hated it, but it gave me a chance to meet with the defense attorney prior to the actual jury trial.

If the defendant has an attorney, it usually didn't take long to explain to the lawyer what we had. Often, it was the first time the lawyer would talk to his/her client.

If the defendant didn't have an attorney and found out that they weren't entitled to a court appointed attorney on a citation, often they'd just want the best deal they could get.

As far as non-jury trials: I found the officers appreciated the presence of a prosecutor just to add credibility and rapport between the two offices. I enjoyed the one day a month we'd run traffic court as I'd get to know all the patrol deputies and PD officer's as well as the troopers.

It seemed worthwhile to me, but I was and am just an assistant.
 
Posts: 764 | Location: Dallas, Texas | Registered: November 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We have being doing the same thing here since about '97. We have pretrials where the prosecutor works out about 95% of the contested JP cases by explaining options or plea bargining cases down a little. You know "I wasn't goin no 87 MPH, I was only going 80!" OK pay a fine for 80. Big Grin The JP's actually appreciate our involvement and it can be fun unless it interfers with "real court". We are a small county and this only takes an afternoon a month. We have even contracted with the one municipality in the county that has municipal court to prosecute their cases alowing me to supplement the ADA's salary a little.
 
Posts: 233 | Location: Anderson, Texas | Registered: July 11, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm an elected CA myself, with no assistants. With around 1900 Class A & B cases a year and over 100 juvenile felonies there is precious little time for JP Court. One of my four JP Courts receives about 5,000 of the 6,000 total Class C cases a year because of our location on I-35 south of Dallas-Ft. Worth. He began having pre-trial hearings, without having the officer present, several years ago. At least 95% of those who previously entered a plea of not guilty change their mind. Many just wanted someone to let them have a voice, others didn't understand their options, etc. The number of trials dropped dramatically and has stayed low.
Deferred works great for both efficiency and generating funds for the county, but with the changes this last legislative session it is no longer available in the cases where it was most effective. More CDL holders are beginning to ask for trial, and probably will subsequently appeal, as DSC and deferred are prohibited for their moving violations. However, it appears that deferred is still available for them in County Court, as the new legislation did not specifically address it. Anyone else seeing similar increases in trial requests?
 
Posts: 48 | Location: Hill County | Registered: February 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We have also seen a marked increase in trial requests. As a consequence, I'm anticipating more appeals on CDL moving violations to County Court.

Mark mentioned the possibility of deferred still available once the case reaches County Court. Can someone shed some light on this?
 
Posts: 7 | Location: Wharton, Texas | Registered: January 20, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am an elected CA, no assistants, a JP, CCL, Co Ct, and assorted civil work for the county. Needless to say, my plate, also, is full!

While I cannot say that I enjoy my days in JP court, we do seem to have things worked out relatively efficiently. The docket is for pretrials. Most of the defendants plead out for the original charge, or as suggested, for a "lesser included". We do offer that "deferred adjudufucation" stuff, as well as defensive driving. Some just want us to know how rude the trooper was...... We can normally work through 30 cases in a morning with conferences at the bench.

On the CDLs, I think we can do a deferred on those on appeal, at least until someone closes that loophole. My JP came back from school and indicated that some jurisdictions are allowing a maximum fine for FTA and a dismissal on the speeding.
 
Posts: 736 | Location: Sweetwater TX | Registered: January 30, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I cannot recall, and can't check now, but isn't there a case or two out there that says the State must be present. I seem to think there was a case where a person was found guilty by the JP without a prosecutor, and appealed and won, in that the State had not met its burden of proof because the Judge was not entitled to try the case. Sorry for the vagueness. Working on an appeal. Wink
 
Posts: 97 | Location: Austin, TX | Registered: May 20, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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David, I think that's how this thread got started to begin with.
 
Posts: 244 | Registered: November 02, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mike,

I knew he was referring to the AG opinion. I am talking about an appellate court case 3 or 4 years ago that said essentially the same thing. Much more weight than an AG opinion.
 
Posts: 97 | Location: Austin, TX | Registered: May 20, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Like others here, we're a small office and I get to do a lot of jp, and have believed that it's required of us and that the court can't try a case without a state's attorney, BUT - just came across art. 45.031 (3) which says that if state's counsel is not present when the case is called, the "justice or judge may (among other options) proceed to trial." Nothing quite so comforting as certainty in the law, eh? Roll Eyes
 
Posts: 159 | Location: At the beach, Texas | Registered: June 12, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Look at 45.031(c) against 45.101(a), which says, "All prosecutions in a justice court SHALL be conducted by the (state's attorney)." I haven't read the A.G. opinion referenced here, does it address this rather glaring contradiction?
 
Posts: 159 | Location: At the beach, Texas | Registered: June 12, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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