Jurist in Residence Letter

From Judge Brent Carr (Ret.)

This resource letter of the Jurist in Residence (JIR) program is designed to facilitate communication among the JCMH, the judiciary, and mental health stakeholders. Please forward this letter to any judges, attorneys, mental health professionals, law enforcement, or other community and state leaders who might be interested. To ensure that you regularly receive this letter, please click on the subscribe button at the bottom of this page, if you have not already. 

The JCMH is Honored to Introduce New Jurist in Residence,

Judge Brent Carr (Ret.)

As the presiding judge of Tarrant County Criminal Court 9 for over 30 years, I saw the unmet needs of defendants with mental illness and wanted to do better. In 2003, I established the Tarrant County Mental Health Court and subsequently established the Tarrant County Veterans Treatment Court in 2010 and the Tarrant County RISE program for sexually exploited women who have become justice involved in 2011. practices.

These programs became my proudest achievement with well over 1,000 graduates and evidence of significantly enhancing the lives of the participants. As a Jurist in Residence for the JCMH, I am excited to share my experiences with the many courts across the state who are ready to try their hand at specialty courts and other diversion best practices.

There are two projects I would like to highlight today that I have been a part of since their inception in 2018: The JCMH Legislative Research Committee and the Annual Judicial Summit on Mental Health.

JCMH Legislative Progress

In September 2022, the JCMH submitted a slate of civil, criminal, and juvenile legislative proposals related to mental health law to the Texas Judicial Council. The proposals that were ultimately enacted into law were authored by Senator Judith Zaffirini, S.B. 2479, and by Senators Kevin Sparks and Charles Perry in S.B. 1585. Senate Bill 2479 is highlighted below, and Senate Bill 1585 will be laid out in the next JIR Letter by Judge Specia.

Senate Bill 2479 Highlights


Allows Electronic Application for Emergency Detention Warrants by Qualified Professionals at Hospitals and Mental Health Facilities

Issue: Previous law only allowed physicians to electronically request a warrant from a judge for an emergency mental health detention under Texas Health and Safety Code section 573.012. In less populated areas, a physician is often not available to electronically request a detention when an emergency detention warrant is needed.


SB 2479: This amendment permits licensed mental health professionals with advanced training and education to electronically make the request. Such applications for emergency detention warrants by those other than physicians are limited to situations where the subject of the application is currently receiving care at a hospital or facility operated by a local mental health authority.


Permits use of Article 16.22 Procedures for Class C Misdemeanors

Issue: Code of Criminal Procedure art. 16.22 previously mandated an interview and report only for individuals charged with a Class B misdemeanor or higher who are suspected of having a mental illness or intellectual disability. Judges hearing Class C offenses often see people with severe mental illness in the justice and municipal courts before their mental health deteriorates and the individual is arrested on a higher-level misdemeanor or felony offense.


SB 2479: Amends Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 16.22 to allow for the inclusion of Class C misdemeanors in the early identification process, giving the judges who frequently interact with this population of defendants the discretion to order a 16.22 interview and written report to identify potential issues and connect these individuals to mental health services.


Harmonizes Mental Health Personal Bonds with Recent Amendments

Issue: S.B. 6 (87th Leg., Second Called Session (2021)) limited certain offenses from eligibility for a personal bond pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 17.03 and inadvertently created a conflict between offenses that permit release on personal bond in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 17.032.


S.B. 2479: Amends Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 17.03 to reconcile the conflicts created in regard to offenses that are eligible for personal bonds and offenses that allow for a mental health personal bond. This law resolves the conflict and allows for the clear resumption of the release of individuals who are charged with certain non-violent offenses and are eligible for a mental health personal bond.


Clarifies a Law Enforcement Officer’s Duties Upon Presenting an Individual for Mental Health Services

Issue: Law enforcement officers often need to wait while the individual they have transported for emergency mental health services is medically screened or treated before they can leave the healthcare facility or emergency room.


SB 2479: This amendment to Texas Health and Safety Code section 573.012 clarifies that a law enforcement officer does not have a duty to remain at a healthcare facility or emergency room once the officer responsibly delivers an individual under a warrant for emergency detention.


Allows Blood Draws for Patients Receiving Court-Ordered Medication

Issue: Medical personnel need to monitor the medication levels of patients who are receiving involuntary medications to determine whether the dosage is appropriate when patients are unable or unwilling to consent to the procedure. Currently, two separate orders are required.


SB 2479: This amendment to Texas Health and Safety Code section 574.106 permits blood draws for patients who already are subject to an order for involuntary psychoactive medications. Such care is medically necessary to monitor medication levels and determine whether the medications need adjustment.

2023 Annual Judicial Summit on Mental Health

If you have not registered yet for the 6th Annual Judicial Summit on Mental Health, the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health would like to invite you to participate this October 18-20, 2023, at the Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. The Summit can be attended in person or virtually.

Last year, we had 1,317 registrants from 187 Texas counties. This year we would like to expand registration further into all 254 counties. To encourage participation, we have launched the WHOLE TEXAS campaign where we track which counties have representation at the Summit. We have created a map for you to check your county. We update this map every Friday, and currently have participants from counties registered for the Summit.

You can register for the Summit HERE. To view the agenda at a glance, click HERE. Please reach out with any questions by emailing [email protected]. We hope to see you either in person or virtually this October!

Some of our topics this year will include:


  • A Mental Health Law Legislative Update
  • Solving Complex Issues in Emergency Detentions
  • Successful Diversion Centers: Collaboration between Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, Defense, & Courts
  • Competency Restoration: Best Practices Including Court-Ordered Medications
  • Grant-Writing Workshop
  • Resource Tables featuring nonprofits and government resources across Texas

A limited number of scholarships to cover the costs of travel and lodging are available for Texas judges and attorneys in good standing. The scholarships are in the form of post-event reimbursement. The scholarship application is here.


Brent Carr (Ret.)

Jurist in Residence

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