Monday, July 27, 2009

Judicial Readiness in Times of Emergency

This is the name of a Task Force formed by the Supreme Court in November 0f 2007 and chaired by Denise Davis, formerly, and currently, the Parliamentarian of the Texas House of Representatives. The Task Force website is and their Resources page, which has a lot of good information on disaster planning for courts, is

Because Denise moved back into the Parliamentarian's role, she did not have an opportunity to finalize a report from the Task Force. We did, however, get a bill passed, HB 1861 by Eiland, with recommendations from the Task Force: affirming the Supreme Court's power to modify or suspend procedures in a disaster, encouraging local judges to include discussion ofdisaster planning in their local rules (which would encourage them to interact with the other emergency planners at the local level), and mentioning the Judicial Branch in Ch. 418 of the Government Code, to give us a "seat at the table" in the planning and response activity that is overseen by the (renamed, see HB 2730) Texas Division of Emergency Management.

We also received partial funding for a project we call JEDI - Judicial Emergency Data Infrastructure - to provide a "hot site" capability to back up the data of some of the appellate courts. We did not receive funding for a dedicated staff person to assist with this work in the Judicial Branch, so I have continued to try and attend to it. This topic and work is much on my mind these days, I will write more later.

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