November 01, 2017

A Texas Approach to the Intersection of Science and the Law

By Judge Barbara Parker Hervey

The Court

Texas has an unusual court structure. There are two supreme courts, each with equal authority, one for civil matters and one for criminal matters: the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.1 The legislature has given the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) the responsibility of governing “Fund 540,” a grant for the education of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.2 Currently, the legislature has allocated about $20 million for the 2018–19 biennium for Fund 540. The legislature is particularly focused on keeping Texas at the forefront of forensic science and the law, and a portion of the funds are specifically set aside for education in the area of “innocence.” The CCA is given 3 percent of the grant allocation to use for administrative purposes, such as salaries for grant employees. The court also has used its administrative funds to support additional training programs. Currently, the court has eight grantee organizations3 and has collaborated with over 20 state and federal organizations on training initiatives.4 The grantees are tasked with training prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, court personnel, law enforcement, and other criminal justice stakeholders.

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