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Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Ask the Judge" Column in this Sunday's La Prensa SA 8-28

Ask the Judge: More Law changes for JP court
By Judge Steve Walker

Hundreds of new laws and amended laws were passed by the 82nd Legislature that will go into effect September 1st.

Last week this column briefly addressed HB27 which dealt with creating a new rule for payments plans in criminal cases.

We also addressed SB407, which dealt with a very small number of “sexting” offenses because any such offense where the defendant is a juvenile “shall” be transferred to the juvenile court.

HB350 which dealt with referencing failure to attend school and fines and HB2717 which amends Section 132.002 Local Government Code to allow courts to accept payments by electronic means and to charge related fees were also addressed.

This week we address HB359 that reads in part: “if the defendant is a student in 6th grade or lower and the conduct occurred on a public school campus during school hours,” there is a legitimate defense. Translated: schools are discouraged from filing disorderly citations on 6th graders or younger. That also includes special needs students of any age.

SB1489 reads that Failure to Attend School can now only be charged on someone that is at least 12 and not yet 18. It further reads that a Justice “shall’ dismiss the complaint against an individual that does not meet that criteria or finds an individual has successfully complied with conditions imposed on them or presents proof on a high school diploma or GED equivalent certificate.

SB1094 relates to requiring adoption of rules for online GED courses. The rule must provide a procedure for verifying the identity of the person taking the exam and prohibit a person less than 18 years of age from taking the exam on line.

HB1862 references the property code which says a landlord is liable to a tenant if a certificate of occupancy is revoked because of the landlord’s failure to maintain the property.

A tenant can not be in default. The landlord may also be liable for the full amount of the tenants’ security deposit, the tenants’ actual damages including moving costs, utility connection fees, storage fees and lost wages, and court costs and attorney fees arising from any related cause of action by the tenant against the landlord.

Lastly as always, if you are due in court, be sure to show up to court on time. It is in everyone’s best interest.

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and a former Journalist.

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