Houston Matters

Does Texas’ New Grand Jury Law Go Far Enough?

Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law changing how grand juries are selected in Texas. Previously, judge-appointed commissioners picked grand jurors in a system sometimes referred to as “pick-a-pal.” Critics said the commissioners tended to select jurors who share their backgrounds, making it less likely grand juries would reflect the diversity of their […]

Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law changing how grand juries are selected in Texas.

Previously, judge-appointed commissioners picked grand jurors in a system sometimes referred to as “pick-a-pal.” Critics said the commissioners tended to select jurors who share their backgrounds, making it less likely grand juries would reflect the diversity of their respective communities.

But, starting Sept. 1, grand juries will be randomly selected from lists of licensed drivers and registered voters – the same way juries are selected for criminal and civil trials.

We learn how the new law works as we talk with Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, who garnered a Pulitzer Prize for her examination of the outgoing system. (Lisa is also one of our rotating panelists on Friday’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly).

MORE:
Abbott Signs Grand Jury Reform Legislation (Texas Tribune, June 19, 2015)
Man Sent to Death Row in Officer’s Killing is Freed (Houston Chronicle, June 8, 2015)
Chronicle’s Falkenberg Wins Pulitzer for Commentary (Houston Chronicle, April 20, 2015)

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