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Rep.Leach, Jeff

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GOVERNOR ABBOTT SIGNS THREE MEASURES AUTHORED BY REPRESENTATIVE JEFF LEACH  print page

by: Rep. Leach, Jeff
06/19/2019

GOVERNOR ABBOTT SIGNS THREE MEASURES AUTHORED BY REPRESENTATIVE JEFF LEACH LANDMARK REFORMS STRENGTHEN JUDICIARY; COLLIN COUNTY TO GAIN TWO DISTRICT COURTS


ALLEN - In a bi-partisan showing of support, Governor Abbott recently signed three bills authored by State Representative Jeff Leach, which work collectively to promote a stronger judiciary in Collin County and throughout the State of Texas. The legislative package includes Senate Bill 891, known as the omnibus "Texas Courts Bill," House Bill 2384 to increase judicial compensation, and Senate Bill 2342 to promote balance and expediency for Texans faced with civil disputes.

"As Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, I am proud of my colleagues on our committee for their hard work and diligence this session as we thoughtfully deliberated countless pieces of legislation to improve our judiciary and advance sound reforms to civil practice and procedure," stated Leach. "Specifically, we gave our judges a much-needed pay raise without raising legislator pensions, bolstered our judiciary with the creation of new courts in Collin County and throughout the State of Texas, and implemented various reforms to improve access to courts to ensure that every Texan has the ability to peacefully resolve a legitimate civil matter."

"TEXAS COURTS BILL" - Representative Leach authored the "Texas Courts Bill" in the House, and sponsored Senate Bill 891, which was recently signed into law by Governor Abbott. In light of Texas' booming population growth and the growing demands facing the criminal and civil justice system, Senate Bill 891 ensures the proper administration of our judiciary through the creation of 17 additional courts throughout the state. Each court is justified based on need and supported by workload data provided by the Office of Court Administration, and has the unanimous support from its corresponding County Commissioner's Court. Included in this omnibus package is the creation of two district courts in Collin County - one specializing in civil law, and one specializing in family law matters. Importantly, the bill specifically authorizes the Collin County Commissioner's Court to appoint magistrates to alleviate Collin County's growing court case backlog, resulting in better outcomes for Collin County residents.

In response, Collin County Judge Chris Hill issued the following statement: "As Collin County’s population continues to increase by nearly 100 persons daily, we are committed to managing the growth while preserving the standard of excellence in county services. I’m grateful for the Legislature’s partnership in providing the additional resources necessary to expand our judiciary in Collin County. The two additional district courts will increase the county’s judicial capacity with an emphasis on civil law and family law matters, and the new magistration authority will provide additional tools to respond to current and future demands on our courts. With Chairman Leach’s assistance, Collin County is prepared and well-positioned to handle future growth.”

JUDICIAL COMPENSATION - During his 2019 "State of the Judiciary" address to the 86th Legislature, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht urged legislators to make judicial compensation a top priority this legislative session, stating “Texas has not compensated her judges fairly." Texas Judges have received two pay raises in nearly two decades, and as a result, Texas is ranked 29th in the nation in judicial compensation when compared with the salaries of other high court judges. Similarly, Texas appellate judges rank 25th in the nation and Texas district judges rank 31st in the nation. House Bill 2384, authored by Representative Leach, promotes longevity on the bench by incorporating a 10% compensation increase every four years served for up to eight years on a tiered pay scale. The tiered pay system applies to judges and justices of the Texas Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, 14 Appellate Courts and all District Courts. Importantly, House Bill 2384 links the elected class retirement to the state base pay of a district judge - not the tiered schedule. As a result, retirement for state legislators will not increase through the passage of House Bill 2384.

IMPROVING ACCESS TO COURTS - Representative Leach authored House Bill 3336 and sponsored Senate Bill 2342 - a longtime priority for civil justice advocates - providing systemic reforms within the civil justice system to address rising costs of litigation and to ensure that every Texan has the right to peacefully resolve a legitimate civil matter. The bill increases the jurisdictional limit for Justice of the Peace courts and many County Court at Law courts, enabling these benches to handle larger civil disputes. Further, the legislation mandates a 12-person jury in certain civil cases, while directing the Supreme Court of Texas to establish rules to expedite the civil process. Senate Bill 2342 was recently signed into law by Governor Abbott.

Born and raised in Plano, Representative Leach graduated from Plano Senior High School before attending Baylor University. He earned his law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law and currently practices at the Texas law firm of Gray, Reed & McGraw LLP. Most recently, Leach was selected by Speaker Dennis Bonnen to serve as Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, and was named to serve on the House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services and the House Committee on Redistricting. In addition, Representative Leach was appointed to the State Preservation Board and serves on the Texas Judicial Council. Jeff and his wife Becky, a writer, speaker and artist, are the proud parents of Brady (age 11), Charlotte (age 8) and Landry (age 4). They are active members of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, where they have served for several years in the Young Families Ministry.


CONTACT: Mary McClure

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