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Civil Liberties Emerge Unscathed Austin WITH CIVIL liberties as with teachers salaries, the Texas Employment Commission, The Public Utilities Commission, brucellosis, and other issues, the 1983 Texas Legislature will be remembered more for what it did not do than what it did do. Unlike 1981, when it appeared lawmakers had set out to prove the old adage that “no person’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session,” the 1983 Legislature did not conduct an all-out assault on civil liberties. The legislature had ample opportunity to continue its savagery against civil liberties. But it didn’t pass Rep. Jim memorializing Congress to call a constitutional convention to allow prayer in the public schools. And it didn’t pass legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Uher a second-degree felony punishable by twenty years’ imprisonment if a doctor performed an abortion without first subjecting the woman to a “right to life”dictated spiel and then delaying the performance of the procedure for 24 hours. Nor did it pass a proposal by Rep. purveyors of employment-blacklisting information to buy Department of Public \(i. e. , basis through computer access. And it didn’t pass state Sen. Ray Farabee’s proposal to create still another DPS computer system, this time for juveniles, with “taken into custody” becoming the standard for creating a DPS computer juvenile record. In 1981, Farabee successfully sponsored legislation that has now resulted in the names and medical prescription records of almost one million Texans being placed in DPS computers. Legislative inaction allowed Texas to join 26 other states which have no enforceable law against private sexual acts by consenting adults. Federal Judge Jerry John Duncan is director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union. By John Duncan Buchmeyer had declared the Texas statute unconstitutional. When Attorney General Jim Mattox dropped Mark White’s appeal of the Buchmeyer deciconducted his biennial exercise in homophobia but to no avail. Ceverha’s attempt to recreate offenses which had previously carried a maximum punishment of a $200 fine with maximum punishments up to ten years’ imprisonment was not reported from committee. We can thank state Sen. Craig Washington for killing four Housepassed measures during the final week of the session. Procedural moves by Washington in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee killed a bill that would have expanded the number of offenses included under the Texas capital murder statute. Also killed in committee by Washington was a bill which would have broadly expanded the jurisdiction of the Texas Youth Council so that a 13-yearold committed to TYC for a non-criminal status offense \(e.g., theoretically be held until age 21. A Washington filibuster also killed what should be referred to as the Eroy Brown Perpetual Prosecution Act. The legislation by Rep. Allen Hightower of Huntsville would have made the State of Texas responsible for all costs of prosecution of inmates in the Texas Departcommitted while in prison. District attorneys in counties where TDC has units are virtual political captives of the TDC. The only restraint on TDC’s “prosecute them until they are dead” philosophy is the burden on the local taxpayer for the prosecution. Washington has twice represented Eroy Brown, who was accused of capital murder in the death of a TDC warden and a supervisor. In the first trial for the death of the warden, the jury voted 10 to 2 for a self-defense acquittal. Brown was retried for the death of the warden, and a second jury voted 12 to 0 for a selfdefense acquittal. Even though both deaths occurred in the same episode with the same facts, Walker County is moving toward a third capital murder trial, this time for the death of the supervisor. These two trials, combined with the recently completed third capital murder trial of TDC inmate Ignacio Cuevas for the 1974 prison escape attempt, have now cost more than $1,000,000 with no end in sight. Finally, Washington bumped a Housepassed bill from the Senate consent calendar two days before the end of the session. This legislation would have more than doubled the period of time for which a school system could suspend a student. Present law allows a maximum suspension through the end of the school term. The legislation would have expanded this to a second school year, thus effectively creating a permanent expulsion by depriving a student of two full years of school credits. For the most part this legislature ran against the recent trend toward longer jail sentences to cure every conceivable social ill. The passage of four bills that create more reasonable systems of parole, probation, restitution, and the calculation of good-time credit toward release was perhaps motivated by Judge Justice’s court order on prison overcrowding and the economic considerations of the cost of new prison construction; nevertheless these were positive steps. A notable exception to more flexible sentencing guidelines was the drivingwhile-intoxicated legislation. Only time will tell whether the mandatory sentencing aspects of the new legislation will be workable or be a deterrent. It should not pass without comment that even the Abilene Reporter-News, a paper not noted for its liberal-extremist positions, editorialized against that portion of the bill which declares a person to be legally intoxicated regardless of other evidence if a chemical test shows a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 % . A bit of comic relief during the ses sion occurred when the Dallas County Commissioners and the Dallas Police Department were attacked from the right by Rick Salwen and Ross Perot’s Tex ans War Against Drugs Committee Branch and State Sen. Ike Harris of Dallas were carrying a bill for the Dallas groups that was designed to relieve jail overcrowding. It would authorize police officers to issue field citations on Class C misdemeanors that carry no jail time on conviction and some Class B misde meanors that result in routine release on personal bond in most counties \(primarily THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25