Texas House unanimously passes bill named for Judge Ruben Reyes

Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Hon. Judge Ruben Reyes served Lubbock County for decades. He’s best known for establishing drug court, a program that attempts to rehabilitate rather than punish addicts.

House Bill 1256, also known as the Judge Ruben Reyes Act, ensures programs like the one he cared so deeply for may continue. The proposed law allocates some sales tax revenue from mixed beverages to fund specialty courts across the state.

Written by Rep. Trent Ashby, it was Lubbock representative Dustin Burrows who suggested Reyes for its namesake.

“When he started talking about specialty courts, I started talking about Judge Ruben Reyes and what a passionate supporter he was of them and how I actually had sat in on some of the hearings and became a believer in what he was doing,” Rep. Burrows said.

“It was one of those things that he enjoyed doing. He enjoyed going to conferences. He enjoyed having participants in his courtroom and getting to see them break free from addiction,” Ross Reyes, the late judge’s son, said.

Reyes says his father found the program rewarding. His family is humbled by the legislation.

“It means a lot to us. It’s a great honor that we don’t take lightly. For those who knew my dad, they knew he was very passionate about specialty courts, and I think the fact that this would guarantee funding for specialty courts is huge,” he said.

The bill passed unanimously in the house. Now it moves on the senate.

The Hon. William Eichman, who has taken over drug court in Lubbock County, says every dollar put towards the program matters.

“We need funding for these courts. Not for the judges, we don’t get paid anything extra. But to give incentives, free bus passes, for people that don’t have transportation, to get to drug court, to get to counseling, to get to AA and NA meetings,” Judge Eichman said.

He says funding can also be put towards rewards to help incentivize participants to reach the next level or even graduate from drug court.

“It is a special thing and fairly rare that we do, do special funding, but I think it shows the legislature’s commitment to these courts and their success,” Rep. Burrows said.

Reyes was named the first-ever inductee into the specialty court hall of fame at a meeting in Galveston last week.

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