Blog

Final Grand Jury

Photo of Benny Agosto

House Bill 2150, containing language that overhauls the Texas grand jury system, is awaiting a signature from Gov. Greg Abbott after reaching final approval from the House on Sunday. The language contained in the bill would effectively scrap the controversial "pick-a-pal" method of grand jury selection in which judge-appointed commissioners selected jurors, leading to conflicts of interest. Texas is one of the last states utilizing this kind of method and this bill marks another step towards creating the preferable random pool selection process.

The bill language had a tumultuous journey to Abbott's desk. Over two weeks ago, Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston tagged this reform language onto HB 2150 with a caveat for counties with fewer than 500,000 residents in order to ensure approval. Just last weekend, Dutton, at Abbott's request, also removed a provision from the Senate's version of the bill that would have considered demographics such as "race, ethnicity, sex, and age" in selection for similar reasons. In a final conference committee between the two chambers regarding the bills, parties agreed to replace the provisions in question with a requirement that the jurors be picked from a "fair cross section" of their county. On Saturday, the Senate approved the final version of the bill and the House voted 86-57 on Sunday, the second-to-last day of the session, to finally get it to the Governor's office. Abbott had a hand in the reforming language so lawmakers such as Sen. John Whitmire of Houston are optimistic that he will approve the historic bill.

The role of the grand jury in legal proceedings has been under much scrutiny from the media in the past few months. The Houston Bar Association has voiced their concerns on this subject, concluding that an all-encompassing system can reestablish trust between the minority community and the grand jury establishment. In the United States this type of jury is given a very important task - deciding whether or not to indict those persons who are arrested for a felony or suspected of committing a crime. We have supported the continued efforts of Sen. Whitmire and Rep. Dutton of Houston and are pleased with the compromise our lawmakers have reached. We feel that the original diversity and demographics language was crucial, due to the problem of minority representation in grand juries, but are overall proud of our state for reaching this remedy.

Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories