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A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT

relating to a jury's role in criminal and certain civil cases.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:

SECTION .  Article 36.13, Code of Criminal Procedure, is amended to read as follows:

Art. 36.13.  ROLE OF JURY [IS JUDGE OF FACTS]. (a) Unless otherwise provided in this Code, the jury is the exclusive judge of the facts. The jury[, but it] is bound to receive the law from the court and be governed thereby, except if a jury determines that a defendant is guilty according to the law and that the law is unjust or unjustly applied to the defendant, the jury may determine not to apply the law to the defendant and find the defendant not guilty or guilty of a lesser included offense.

(b)  A defendant has the right to inform the jury of the jury's power to judge the law and to vote on the verdict according to conscience. Failure to allow the defendant to inform the jury of the jury's power is grounds for a mistrial.

(c)  Notwithstanding any other law, the court shall allow the defendant to present to the jury, for its consideration, evidence and testimony relevant to the exercise of the jury's power under this article.

(d)  The state may rebut any evidence introduced under this article with evidence of a similar nature.

 

SECTION .  Subtitle B, Title 2, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, is amended by adding Chapter 24 to read as follows:

 

CHAPTER 24. JURY POWERS IN CERTAIN GOVERNMENTAL PROCEEDINGS

Sec. 24.001.  DEFINITION. In this chapter, "governmental agency" means:

(1)  this state and any institution, agency, or component of government established by the constitution or laws of this state, including any department, bureau, board, commission, office, or council; or

(2)  a political subdivision of this state, including any county, municipality, district, or authority, and any agency of a political subdivision.

Sec. 24.002.  SCOPE OF CHAPTER. (a) This chapter applies only to an action in which a governmental agency, as party to a civil action, seeks to collect or retain a civil or administrative penalty.

(b)  This chapter applies only to an action tried to a jury under applicable law. This chapter does not create a right to a jury.

Sec. 24.003.  ROLE OF JURY. (a) If a jury determines that a party is liable according to the law and the law is unjust or unjustly applied to the party, the jury may determine not to apply the law to the party and find the party not liable.

(b)  A party has the right to inform the jury of the jury's power to judge the law and to vote on the verdict according to conscience. Failure to allow a party to inform the jury of the jury's power is grounds for granting a new trial.

Sec. 24.004.  EVIDENCE. Notwithstanding any other law, the court shall allow any party to the trial to present to the jury, for its consideration, evidence and testimony relevant to the exercise of the jury's power under this chapter.

Sec. 24.005.  DISQUALIFICATION OF JUROR PROHIBITED. A potential juror may not be excused or disqualified from serving on a jury because the juror expresses a willingness to exercise a power granted to the jury under this chapter.

Sec. 24.006.  CONFLICT WITH TEXAS RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE. Notwithstanding Section 22.004, Government Code, the supreme court may not amend or adopt rules in conflict with this chapter.

 

SECTION .  The change in law made by this Act applies only to a jury empaneled on or after the effective date of this Act.

SECTION .  This Act takes effect September 1, 1999.

SECTION .  The importance of this legislation and the crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an emergency and an imperative public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.

 

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Last modified: November 27, 2003