© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Government/Politics

Texas House Oks Reforming Controversial ‘Pick-A-Pal’ Grand Juries

scales_of_justice.jpg
Courtesy: SalFalko
/
Flickr (Creative Commons)

AUSTIN — Texas is on the verge of scrapping its controversial “pick-a-pal” grand jury system, after the House gave final approval to a sweeping overhaul.

The state is currently the only one in America where judge-appointed commissioners nominate prospective jurors, rather than picking randomly selected residents.

The U.S. Supreme Court has criticized the system. But some small-county Texas judges oppose changing it, worried that jury pools may shrink too much.

Without debate Sunday, the House voted 79-59 to approve a bill changing the system, sponsored by Houston Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton.

The proposal already cleared the Senate. But a technical change the House made means it still has some logistical steps before going to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law.

Dutton had expected debate over small-county exceptions, but none came.