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SENATOR SHAPLEIGH WORKS WITH SENATOR WENTWORTH TO ADD NEW EL PASO COURTS
May 22, 2007

"It's done. We just needed to work harder to get it done—we're used to that in El Paso."

Written by Senator Eliot Shapleigh, www.shapleigh.org

AUSTIN –  Today, May 22, Senator Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso), working together with H.B. 4139 sponsor Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio), added two new El Paso courts in the bill, passed by the Texas Senate.

"It's done," said Senator Shapleigh.

The created El Paso courts are the 448th District Court and the El Paso County Criminal District No. 1.  The additional civil court will aid the handling of additional cases expected when 23,000 Fort Bliss soldiers and their families move to El Paso.  The criminal district court will focus on felony drug cases and associated civil cases related to those felony drug cases. 

On May 16, in the House, the El Paso courts ran into trouble when Representative Will Hartnett (R-Dallas) slashed them from a bill filed by Representative Norma Chávez (D-El Paso).  The move was the result of a clash between Hartnett and Chávez over re-opening the Tigua Indian casino in El Paso. 

Hartnett, an opponent of gambling, played a role in defeated Chávez's Tigua bill.  He also called the tribal members criminals for having operated a casino and compared them to drug dealers who break the law.     

"We just needed to work harder to get it done—we're used to that in El Paso," said Senator Shapleigh.

H.B. 4139 takes effect September 1, 2007.

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