FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2009
AUSTIN — State Senator Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place) filed Senate Bill 1278 yesterday to ensure jury sentences are honored and upheld in Texas courts. Huffman filed SB1278 in response to a 2009 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling which allowed judges to overrule a criminal sentence handed down by a jury.
"The cornerstone of the Texas justice system is being judged by a jury of our peers," said Sen. Huffman. "If a jury decides that a convicted criminal should be incarcerated Texas law should not allow a judge to replace incarceration with probation. SB1278 simply prevents a judge from overriding a jury’s decision."
SB 1278 states a judge cannot suspend a jury's prison sentence in favor of community supervision. Current law dictates a judge shall follow the jury's judgment when community supervision is recommended, but contains a loophole allowing community supervision when a jury orders incarceration.