courts | KERA News


Wikimedia Commons

When President Donald Trump was sworn in, there were more than a hundred empty seats in the federal judiciary. That left open a rare opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by appointing judges to lifetime terms likely to outlast his administration.

With the end of his first year in office coming into focus, some of his supporters are frustrated with the pace of the Senate Judiciary Committee in approving nominees.

Jamelle Bouie / Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

A U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday could help Texas’ federal court system begin tunneling out of a years-long logjam created as several benches in the state have sat vacant for years.

Their services usually come at a cost. But commentator and attorney William Holston says National Pro Bono week (Oct. 20-26) reminds us lawyers also put in many hours on a volunteer basis.

Vernon Bryant / Pool photographer, Dallas Morning News

The contempt hearing for Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins is on hold after an attorney from the D.A.’s office asked Judge Lena Levario to take herself off the case. Attorneys for Watkins say she’s biased, and found a county jail worker who said Levario made anti-Watkins comments to her over lunch a few months ago. 

BJ Austin / KERA News

Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins is scheduled to be in court this morning on a four month-old contempt charge. That’s when the D.A. refused to talk about a fraud case despite the judge’s order to do so.

The Justice Department's civil rights division has objected to the new photo ID requirement for voters in Texas, saying many Hispanic voters lack state-issued identification.

The department says the state has failed to show that the newly enacted law has neither a discriminatory purpose nor effect.

In a letter to Texas officials, the Justice Department says Hispanic voters in Texas are as much as 120 percent more likely than non-Hispanic voters to lack a driver's license or personal state-issued photo ID.

A new program at the Dallas County Juvenile Department is offering a second chance to some teenagers who find themselves in juvenile court facing charges and possible jail time. KERA’s BJ Austin says the Department recently celebrated the first graduating class of its new “Mental Health Court”.