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Bexar County Criminal District Courts Plan

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Presentation on theme: "Bexar County Criminal District Courts Plan"— Presentation transcript:

1 Bexar County Criminal District Courts Plan
Standards & Procedures Related to Appointment of Counsel for Indigent Defendants “Human wheels spin round and round, while the clock keeps the pace.” -John Cougar Mellencamp

2 Presenting: The “Wheel” model of Indigent Defense in the Criminal District Courts of Bexar County

3 Article of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure outlines the “Procedures for Appointing Counsel”

4 Senate Bill 7 This bill became law on January 1, 2002.
The Criminal District Court Judges prepared in 2001 by forming committees with relevant interested parties, including defense bar and Commissioners Court - Magistration Committee - Attorney Qualifications Committee - Fee Schedule Committee Which resulted in……….

5 “The Plan”: Standards & Procedures Related to Appointment of Counsel for Indigent Defendants in the Bexar County Criminal District Courts

6 Six Categories: Procedures for Timely Appointment of Counsel
Procedures and Financial Standards for Determining Whether a Defendant is Indigent Selection and Appointment of Counsel Selection and Appointment of Counsel in Death Penalty Cases Notice of Appointment, Determination, and Contact with the Defendant Attorney Fee Schedule and Compensation of Appointed Attorneys

7 The basic spokes of the wheel
Focus today is on "Selection and Appointment of Counsel" The basic spokes of the wheel

8 5 Felony Lists: state jail felonies 2nd & 3rd degree felonies
1st & 3(g) felonies state jail & 3rd degree appeals 1st, 2nd, & 3(g) appeals Do you want it to read “felonies” plural like we did for the appeals?

9 The Felony Public Appointment Lists: Attorneys must apply to be included on each public appointment list. New applications, supplemental applications, and exceptions are reviewed and voted on by the judges twice a year.

10 “Quality Control”: Judges review the lists and can vote to remove an attorney for a variety of statutory reasons and other reasons outlined in the plan. For instance, the attorney no longer meets the objective qualifications for that list, or the attorney is not fully competent to adequately handle the category of cases, or the attorney intentionally or repeatedly violates his obligations Citation: Bexar County Criminal District Courts Plan, Local Rule 5.22(j)

11 In December 2010, “WARNING" letters were sent to about 20 attorneys who were reported by judges and court coordinators to be chronically late to court, regular no-shows, or whom the courts have consistent difficulty contacting.  The judges will review these specific attorneys in June and if problems have continued, will consider removing them from our felony court appointed attorney lists.  

12 In their plan, the Criminal District Court Judges have designated Pre-Trial Services as the “appointing” authority to make assignments of court appointed attorneys. “Assignment” of an attorney is made by Pre-Trial Services: After the defendant has requested one or the judge has determined the need for one After the defendant has been found to be indigent or indigence is waived Is this in the Plan? I can put a citation if it is. I could not find it.

13 “The computer will select and provide an attorney’s name to the Pre-Trial Services Clerk, after analyzing the individual requirements of the request and utilizing the following filters: Language Degree of offense Availability of attorney Date of last appointment” Citation: Bexar County Criminal District Courts Plan, Local Rule 5.22(l)(2)

14 Therefore, “the attorney’s name selected by the computer to be appointed to the case should be one that….. Meets any language requirement (if possible) Is qualified to take appointments for that degree of offense Is not unavailable, And has the oldest date of last appointment. This will result in a system of rotation” Citation: Bexar County Criminal District Courts Plan, Local Rule 5.22(l)(3)

15 Number of Attorneys on the Felony Appointment Lists
As of January 1, 2011, there are 408 attorneys on the felony appointment lists.

16 Total Felony Cases Added:
,343 ,489 ,110 ,474 *These numbers reflect cases added during a calendar year.

17 Number of Felony Court Appointed Attorney Cases Paid:
FY 07-08: 9,964 FY 08-09: 11,756 FY 09-10: 11,742 Would it help to insert total number of cases for year? I know that number has gone up. *These numbers reflect vouchers paid during a fiscal year

18 Felony Appointment Rate:
2007  59.46%       %       % %

19 Pre-Auditor Voucher Process in the Criminal District Courts:
Voucher is signed and sworn to by the defense attorney Reviewed for accuracy by the judge and/or court coordinator If disputed, judge can forward to the Voucher Recommendation Committee If disapproved by the judge, voucher can be referred to the committee by the defense attorney, investigator, or expert affected by the disapproval

20 Since its inception in 2007, the Voucher Recommendation Committee has reviewed 153 vouchers and recommended reductions in vouchers amounting to over $141, After the judge signs off on the voucher, it is sent to the Auditor's office for processing.

21 System is tweaked every couple of years, but recently due to review of system by TFID:
In-court appointments now going through Pre-Trial Services and being made by the system whenever possible Some courts still utilizing “next five names” procedure Working with BCIT and PTS to update attorney appointment system

22 Article 26.04(a) Code of Criminal Procedure
“The JUDGES of the county courts, statutory county courts, and district courts trying criminal cases in each county, by local rule, shall adopt and publish written countywide procedures for timely and fairly appointing counsel for an indigent defendant in the county arrested for or charged with a misdemeanor punishable by confinement or a felony.”

23 Texas Administration Code §174.10: “Appointing Authority”
The appointing authority is the: (1) Judge or judges who have authority to establish an indigent defense plan and approve attorneys to represent indigent defendants in criminal cases under Article 26.04, Code of Criminal Procedure;

24 Court Appointed Attorney Assignments
Total attorneys on County Court wheel = 341 Total attorneys on District Court wheel = 408 Total attorneys on both wheels = 514

25 Misdemeanor Appointment List
Currently have 344 attorneys on the list New Applications accepted anytime Annual Review of CLE hours due every January 6 hours Criminal Law and 3 hours Immigration Law List approved by Judges 3 times a year Attorneys removed if request in writing or non-compliance with CLE requirements

26 Attorney may be removed if:
has twice or more failed to contact or interview clients in a timely manner has submitted a claim for legal services not performed as specified in Article 26.05(e), CCP; fails to maintain compliance with each of the appointment list guidelines; has been found by a court to have provided ineffective assistance of counsel; has violated a rule of professional responsibility;

27 Attorney may be removed if: (cont’d)
has been convicted of or received a deferred adjudication for any an offense, other than an offense punishable by fine only; is under indictment or being formally charged with an offense, other than an offense punishable by a fine only; or has intentionally misrepresented statements on the application for the appointment list.  An attorney may also be removed from the appointment list for another stated good cause.

28 Total Misdemeanor Cases Appointed:
FY’ ,631 FY’ ,308 FY’ ,289 FY’ ,561 FY’ ,390 **Bexar County Auditor’s Office/ FY Oct 1st-Sept 30th)

29 Total Misdemeanor Cases Added:
,728 ,975 ,697 ,846 **Task Force on Indigent Defense Website—Formula Grant Program County Data Sheet/ Calendar year

30 Appointment rates for misdemeanor cases
% % % %

31 Pre-Auditor Voucher Review in County Courts
Voucher signed by Attorney Reviewed by Judge and/or County Court Administration (Staff Attorney) if over $500 If need for reduction, court admin will discuss with Judge and send memo outlining reasons If reduced, attorney can appeal to Judge Peeples, Administrative Judge 4th Judicial Region Once signed, given to court clerk to make computer entry and forward to Auditor’s office

32 In-court appointment system as a result of TFID report:
All attorneys required to be on misdemeanor wheel (if on felony wheel, can be given appointment through *IDAAS even if not on misdemeanor wheel) Pre-trial services given directive to interview all misdemeanor MTRs for a Court appointed attorney (CAA) In-court appointments using attorney list rotation—each court appoints off next names on list per month. (Will utilize until coordinators get access to *IDAAS system). Defendants incarcerated on 7th day after arrest to be given CAA by Pre-trial services. *Indigent Defendant Attorney Appointment System


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