After handling nearly 4,300 applications for writ of habeas corpus last year, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is trying to streamline the process by changing rules to create word limits for applicants and deadlines for courts.
“It gives us the ability to process the writs a little better—maybe quicker, more efficient,” said CCA Clerk of the Court Abel Acosta.
The CCA on Dec. 13 amended parts of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure governing habeas writ applications. The court approved the changes in an order that also laid out rules for electronic filing of court documents. The habeas rule changes begin on page 25 of the order.
Among other things, the applications can’t be longer than 15,000 words if computer generated, or 50 pages if handwritten.
“That’s really the biggest change,” said Acosta.
The court changed the form that inmates or their lawyers can use to file an application. But one new rule requires district clerks to accept all applications “whether it’s on the form or not,” Acosta noted.
Another major change creates a 180-day deadline, starting when the state receives its copy of an application, for district courts to resolve issues that the application raised. But courts can ask the CCA for a time extension.