Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1033
By: Thompson
Judicial Affairs


Caseloads of appellate courts in Texas vary widely and the uneven
distribution of the workload creates a burden on the judicial system.  For
example, appeals filed per justice vary by more than 157 percent between
the 11th and Ninth Appellate District.  Texas law allows the Supreme Court
to transfer cases to appellate courts with less crowded dockets, but the
manner in which cases have been transferred has not always been efficient.
Often cases are transferred to courts that are hundreds of miles away.
More than 18 percent of the appeals filed in the Ninth Appellate District
are transferred out, but few go to the nearby appellate courts in Houston.

The House Committee on Judicial Affairs (committee) conducted its second
study on appellate redistricting and selection during the 76th
Legislature's interim.  The committee recommended that the courts of
appeals be subject to the sunset review process.  House Bill 1033 directs
the Sunset Advisory Commission to study the courts of appeals districts and
workloads and to make recommendations to the next legislature on
eliminating or reducing overlapping jurisdiction and equalizing dockets. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


House Bill 1033 requires the Sunset Advisory Commission (commission) to
study the district boundaries of the courts of appeals and recommend
whether the boundaries should be redrawn to equalize the workload among the
courts of appeals or eliminate or reduce overlapping territorial
jurisdiction between courts.  The bill provides that the commission must
include in the study a review of the workload of each court of appeals and
requires the commission to recommend whether the number of justices on a
court should be increased or decreased to improve efficiency at a court or
to equalize the workload among the justices of the courts.  The bill
authorizes the commission to consider the factors that the commission
considers relevant to the study and to determining its recommendation, and
conduct public hearings regarding the study at the times that the
commission considers advisable.  The bill requires the Office of Court
Administration of the Texas Judicial System to timely provide the
commission with the information that the commission requests to conduct the
study.  The bill requires the commission to report the results of its study
and its recommendations to the presiding officer of each officer of the
legislature,  the Senate Jurisprudence Committee, and the House Committee
on Judicial Affairs no later than November 1, 2002. 


September 1, 2001.