Senate Votes To Adopt A Bill That Would Require Texas Prosecutors To Seek Cases Involving Abortion And Elections

On Tuesday, a bill meant to control district attorneys who choose not to pursue particular cases was enacted by the Senate in its preliminary form. The bill, which Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has prioritized, is a part of a bigger initiative to curtail the authority of elected prosecutors, particularly in Texas’ biggest, most left-leaning counties.

Texas district and county prosecutors have stated that they will not bring charges against anybody who are alleged to have violated the state’s nearly complete prohibition on abortion. There is disagreement on the prosecution of instances involving first-time drug offenders, low-level thievery, and claims of election fraud.

The cases that the prosecutor’s office will pursue are entirely up to them. Nonetheless, more than 30 legislation aimed at restricting this “prosecutorial discretion” have been submitted by conservative MPs.

Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston and the bill’s sponsor, said on Tuesday that “unfortunately, some Texas prosecutors have joined a pattern of creating internal policy declining to prosecute particular statutes.” Their acts dangerously undermine the legitimacy of the Legislature and establish a hazardous precedent.

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The first of these bills to pass either chamber is Senate Bill 20, which was initially approved on Tuesday with a vote of 21-10. The bill was written by Huffman and Sen. Tan Parker, a Republican from Flower Mound. Before moving on to the House, the bill must first receive approval from the Senate.

A policy “under which the prosecuting attorney refuses to prosecute a class or type of criminal offense” would be prohibited by SB 20. Such a practice would be considered “official misconduct,” and a district judge may order the dismissal of a prosecutor if a jury found them guilty.

Presently, an elected prosecutor can only be accused of misconduct by a county citizen. Nevertheless, separate legislation that would enable citizens, prosecutors in neighboring counties, and the attorney general to bring allegations of official wrongdoing is being considered by both houses.

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