Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Bill Signed for County Court at Law, AliceTx.com

Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently signed into law House Bill 3153, which is a cause for much celebration in the Jim Wells County Courthouse.

The bill provides for the creation of a county court at law that will free up the county and district court, allowing more cases to be resolved. According to the bill, the county court at law would have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court to hear cases in which the “matter in controversy exceeds $500 but does not exceed $200,000, excluding interest.”

The new court will also have jurisdiction over family law cases and proceedings, class A and class B misdemeanors, juvenile cases and appeals from justice and municipal courts.

Law Could Set Stage for Juvenile Justice Reforms, The Texas Tribune

In Travis County, juvenile justice officials have decided that they can do a better job than the state in dealing with the most troubled local offenders, considering Texas’ history of scandal and violence in youth lockups.

“We will no longer commit kids to the state,” said Jeanne Meurer, a Travis County senior district judge. “We will take care of all of our kids.”

New Guide to Program Evaluation Released, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

As funders, programs and the public increasingly understand the importance of evidence based practice, nonprofit leaders are feeling more pressure to prove the effectiveness of their initiatives. To help organizations interested in creating or strengthening a research base for their work, the Vera Institute of Justice recently released a new publication, “Measuring Success: A Guide to Becoming an Evidence-Based Practice.” The guide, which was funded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of its Models for Change initiative, is written primarily for juvenile justice initiatives, but may be helpful for other youth-serving programs as well. [Editor’s note: The MacArthur Foundation is a funder of the JJIE.] Although evaluation is beneficial for any program, the guide cautions that “the steps described here are neither simple nor easy.”