The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 6 (known as the Damon Allen Act for a trooper killed in the line of duty in 2017) during the second special session of the 2021 legislative session. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 13, 2021.
This bill significantly changes the process for setting bail by giving magistrates additional information about defendants, including their criminal history and any required bond conditions, prohibiting the release of a defendant on a personal bond in certain situations, and increasing educational requirements for magistrates. The bill includes the development, use and training stages of the Public Safety Report System (PSRS), which must be created by the Office of Court Administration by April 1, 2022.
Additionally, Government Code Section 72.038 mandates that a bail form containing certain information must be submitted to the OCA through the PSRS every time that bail is set under Chapter 17 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS UNDER SB 6:
Important note: Training requirements of Article 17.024 are applicable to all judges exercising authority over criminal matters.
For all county judges serving on April 1, 2022:
Those who make decisions regarding bail must be in compliance with educational requirements. These include an eight-hour course on magistrate duties by Dec, 1, 2022, for judges in office on April 1, 2022, including a Department of Public Safety course on accessing criminal history records.
Additionally, two hours of education on a magistrate’s duties must be completed each subsequent state fiscal biennium (the two-year period beginning on Sept. 1 in odd-numbered years, such as Sept. 1, 2023-Aug. 31, 2025). Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 17.023, 17.024.
For all new county judges taking office after April 1, 2022:
They will need an eight-hour course on magistrate duties within 90 days of taking office, including a DPS course on accessing criminal history records (see the FAQ below for more details).
Additionally, a two-hour course on a magistrate’s duties must be completed each subsequent state fiscal biennium (the two-year period beginning on Sept. 1 in odd-numbered years, such as Sept. 1, 2023-Aug. 31, 2025). Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 17.023, 17.024.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Are there any additional training requirements?
All PSRS users who will be accessing the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (TLETS) for criminal history information should have their own TLETS user ID. The user ID is assigned under the ORI number for each user. Users with TLETS access must maintain a TLETS mobile access certification. This certification is granted after the completion of an eight-hour live training. The training is provided by DPS, both virtually and in person, on specific days and times. New users have six months to complete the training after initial access is granted and a TLETS user ID is assigned. Recertification is required after two years.
Where can I get training hours?
The Texas Association of Counties judicial calendar of events includes opportunities for training required by Article 17.024, and they are listed below.
Upcoming Conferences — The Texas Judicial Academy will offer magistrate credit hours during the judicial training for county judges:
Texas Justice Court Training Center (TJCTC) Training Modules — The Texas Judicial Academy has certified training hours through the Texas Justice Court Training Center. You can find self-paced modules on the TJCTC website under option 2. County judges must complete the Texas Judicial Academy form AFTER completion of the training modules and submit it to Regan Williams.
What if I'm not on the jail rotation list to magistrate?
The eight-hour initial education requirement and the two-hour requirement each subsequent state fiscal biennium apply to all county judges with jurisdiction over criminal matters, regardless of whether they are performing magistrate duties at the county jail.