Criticized ‘pick-a-pal’ Texas grand juries closer to reform

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas is closer to revamping the grand jury system that was in place for hundreds of Houston police shootings that didn’t result in any officer indictments.

The Republican-controlled House gave final approval Friday to ditching the “pick-a-pal” way the biggest counties in Texas choose grand juries. Federal courts stopped using a similar method more than four decades ago.

The change is targeted to complaints about Harris County, where police officers since 2004 have been routinely cleared in shootings.

Under the “pick-a-pal” system, judge-appointed commissioners are allowed to nominate prospective jurors rather than pick randomly selected residents. The U.S. Supreme Court has called the method “susceptible of abuse.”

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The Senate has already passed a similar measure. There are two weeks left to get a bill to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.