Texas Court Records
What Are Texas Specialty Courts?
The Texas judicial system has several specialized courts, created to identify the root causes of criminal behavior in the state and rehabilitate offenders through programs that involve treatment, supervision, and support.
The Texas Specialty Courts offer several programs, which include:
- Adult Drug Courts
- Juvenile Drug Courts
- Veterans Treatment Courts
- Mental Health Courts
- Family Drug Courts
- Commercially Sexually Exploited Persons Courts
- Public Safety Employees Treatment Courts
These Specialty Courts work by combining a regimen of rigorous monitoring and supervision of the participants of its programs with intensive community-based treatment services, all aimed at reducing recidivism, preventing incarceration, and promoting recovery amongst its participants.
Texas Specialty Courts generally have the following essential characteristics:
- Integrating alcohol, drug, and substance abuse treatment services in the processing of cases in the Texas judicial system
- Identifying eligible participants on time and promptly placing them in an appropriate program
- Utilizing a non-adversarial approach that involves prosecutors and defense attorneys to promote public safety, and also to protect the due process rights of the participants of Specialty Court programs
- Constant monitoring of abstinence amongst participants through regular alcohol and drug testing
- Formulating coordinated strategies that govern the compliance of participants
- Constant monitoring and evaluation of the goals and effectiveness of the various programs
- Maintaining ongoing judicial interactions with the participants in the various programs.
- Promoting the effective planning, implementation, and operation of programs through continuous interdisciplinary education
- Developing necessary partnerships with public agencies and community organizations
- Including the family members of participants that agree to be involved in the participant’s treatment
- Providing access to mental illness treatment services where necessary
The commissioners’ court of a county usually establishes Texas Specialty Court programs, and they are offered to offenders as an alternative to imprisonment. Participants in some of these programs may be required to pay a participation fee. Participants that complete a Specialty Court program may file a petition asking the court to issue an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information for the offense that resulted in the participant’s involvement with the Specialty Court program.
In compliance with statutory law, Specialty Court programs must submit the following documents to the Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System before they may operate in the state:
- A written notice of the Specialty Court program
- A copy of the resolution or official declaration that established the Specialty Court program
- A copy of the Specialty Court program’s applicable community justice plan that incorporates the duties required under the program concerning probation and supervision
In addition to the Specialty Court programs, the state of Texas also has Children’s Courts. The Children’s Courts are specialized courts that handle certain matters related to children in Texas. The Texas court system has two Children’s Court programs:
- Child Support Courts—These courts were created to provide speedy administrative and judicial resolution to child support cases. Child Support Courts are headed by associate judges, appointed by the presiding judge of the administrative, judicial region where the court is located. Administrative assistants may also be employed for these courts. Both the judges and the assistants are considered employees of the Texas judicial system’s Office of Court Administration. Together, the associate judges and administrative assistants hear and dispose of Title IV-D child support establishment and enforcement cases and paternity cases in compliance with the timeframe stipulated by Texas Family Code Chapter 201, Subchapter A, Section 110. This program is administered by the state’s Office of Court Administration, with support from the Texas Attorney’s office and is funded with both federal and state funds.
- Child Protection Courts—Child Protection Courts are specialty courts in the Texas court system created to assist the state’s trial courts in rural areas by managing their child abuse and child neglect dockets. Associate judges in these courts are appointed by the presiding judges of the administrative, judicial regions where they are located. Like the Child Support Courts, these judges are also considered employees of the Texas judicial system’s Office of Court Administration. In some cases, a visiting judge may be appointed to hear cases instead of an associate judge. However, this is done at the discretion of the presiding judge. When a judge is assigned to a docket to hear child abuse and child neglect cases, the judge is assigned exclusively. This is done so that the quality of placement decisions for children in these cases can be higher and for these children to achieve permanency more quickly.
TheTexas Children’s Courts’ administrative functions are typically managed by a Specialty Courts program director employed by the state’s Office of Court Administration. This program director also provides customer service to the Specialty Courts personnel, as well as extensive additional staff support and services for the court’s programs.
Queries related to the Texas Specialty Courts can be directed to the state’s Office of Court Administration by calling (512) 463–1625. The Texas judicial system also provides interested members of the public with online access to contact details of the state’s Specialty Courts and Specialty Court personnel through the following directories:
- Specialty Courts (listed by county)
- Child Support Courts
- Child Protection Courts