Lamar Juvenile Board Plan

      Be it remembered that on this date the below signed District Judges of Lamar County, County Court at Law, County Judge of Lamar County and the Lamar County Juvenile Board and all Courts of Lamar County sitting as Juvenile Courts, hereby adopt, order and establish and order published these countywide procedures and rules governing the fair and timely appointment of counsel for indigent accused juveniles in Lamar County, Texas.   This document constitutes the Lamar County Plan in conformity with the requirements of Senate Bill 7 passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law in 2001.

Prompt Detention Hearings

A.    A child taken into custody must either be brought to a juvenile processing office without unnecessary delay where they may not be detained for longer than six hours pursuant to §52.025, Family Code, or another disposition authorized by §52.02, Family Code, including referral to the office designated by the juvenile board as intake for the juvenile court.  The intake officer shall process the child according the requirement of §53.01, Family Code, and shall also inform the child and the child’s parents of the right to appointed counsel if they are indigent and provide a form for the purpose of determining eligibility for appointment of counsel. If the child is not released by intake, then a Detention Hearing shall be held not later than the second working day after the child is taken into custody unless the child is detained on a Friday, Saturday or listed holiday in which case the detention hearing shall be held on the first working day after the child is taken into custody. 

B.     Prior to the detention hearing the court shall inform the parties of the child’s right to counsel and to appointed counsel if they are indigent, and of the child’s right to remain silent as to the alleged conduct.

C.     The detention hearing may be conducted without the presence of the child’s parent(s) or other responsible adult(s), however, in these cases the court must immediately appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem to represent the child.

D.    The court shall provide the attorney for the child access to all written matter to be considered by the Court in making the detention decision.

Indigence Determination Standards

A juvenile who is presumed to be indigent shall make proper application requesting that the Court appoint counsel.  Immediately upon receipt of the proper request, unless the appropriate judge decides to make the determination of indigency and appoint counsel as appropriate, the Clerk of the appropriate court or one of his/her deputies shall immediately make a determination of the juvenile (or juvenile's parents).   If found to be indigent the next eligible, qualified attorney on the approved list for juvenile appointments, will be appointed to represent the juvenile.   It will be the duty of the judge or clerk to decide the question of indegency based upon the information provided in the application and guidelines set forth in this section.

A juvenile is presumed indigent if the net household income of the person responsible for the juvenile does not exceed 100% of the Poverty Guidelines as revised annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and published in the Federal Register.

A juvenile who does not meet any of the standard above shall nevertheless be considered indigent if the person responsible for the juvenile is unable to retain private counsel without substantial hardship.   In considering if obtaining private counsel will create a substantial hardship, the appointing authority shall take into account:

  1. the nature of the charge(s);
  2. anticipated complexity of the defense;
  3. the estimated cost of obtaining competent private legal representation for the matter(s) charged;
  4. the amount needed for the support of the dependents of the person responsible for the juvenile;
  5. accused's income;
  6. source of income;
  7. assets and property owned;
  8. outstanding obligations;
  9. necessary expenses;
  10. the number and ages of dependents; and
  11. spousal income that is available to the person responsible for the juvenile.

Factors NOT to be considered in determining indigence:    The resources available to friends or relatives may not be considered in determining whether the juvenile is indigent.

Minimum Attorney Qualifications

A. The following standards and classifications apply to all attorney appointments:

1. Lead Counsel

Lead Counsel must be familiar with and experienced in the practice and procedures of the courts of Texas for the type proceedings for which appointment is made and shall be a member in good standing or otherwise recognized as competent to practice by the State Bar of Texas. The attorney shall be competent in utilization of the Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Texas Rules of Evidence, Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure and possess effective representation. These qualifications apply on all criminal cases, juvenile cases, probation revocation cases and writs other than a capital case in which the death penalty is sought.

b. Lead Counsel and associate counsel for a capital case in which the death penalty is sought will be appointed from the list approved by the Region I Administrative Judge.

c. During each four-year period, lead Counsel for both felony and misdemeanor cases shall complete a minimum of eight (8) hours of training in State Bar of Texas approved courses in any combination of criminal law, juvenile law, criminal evidence and/or criminal trial practice, maintain at least the State Bar minimum requirements for ethics and continuing legal education and attend and successfully complete the Advanced Course in Criminal Law.

2. Novice Counsel is an attorney who is properly licensed to practice in Texas for less than two years and who has tried or actively participated in the trial of fewer than three criminal jury trials to final jury verdict.

3. As to appointments other than for felony or misdemeanor cases, counsel must be in compliance with the continuing legal education requirements of the State Bar.

B. Capability to Send and Receive Documents by Electronic Mail ("email") and/or Facsimile ("fax")

All appointed counsel shall have the capability to send and receive documents by facsimile ("fax") and/or electronic mail ("email") in the regular and ordinary course of business. Appointed counsel shall at all times maintain a current facsimile number and/or email address with the Lamar County District Clerk’s Office, the Lamar County Clerk’s Office and the Lamar County Attorney’s Office.

C. Special Inquiry

The judges and the Juvenile Board may inquire as to the qualifications of any attorney to act as Lead Counsel in any type of case and may deny appointment if not satisfied as to the qualifications to try the particular case.

D. Proof of Compliance

The records of the State Bar of Continuing Legal Education Department shall be conclusive as to the completion of these continuing legal education requirements and such records shall be furnished by counsel to the Plan coordinator by January 31 each year.

E. Obligations of Appointed Counsel

1. The overriding obligation of appointed Lead Counsel is to provide effective assistance of counsel to the indigent client as defined by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), Hernandez v. State, 726 S.W. 2nd 53.57 (1986), and Ex Parte Poole, 738 S.W. 2d 285, 286 (Tex. Crim. App. 1987).

2. Specific obligations of appointed Lead Counsel in criminal cases are:

a. To personally interview the indigent client within twenty-four hours after appointment if in jail, if possible. In any event, if the client has not been interviewed in jail within forty-eight hours after appointment, the indigent shall be entitled to appointment of a new counsel upon written request. However, appointed counsel is not required to visit the client in jail during Saturday or Sunday or any other legal holiday as set by the Commissioners Court, except in extraordinary circumstances, but must visit thereafter within the prescribed time limits.

b. To investigate the facts of the case either in person or through an appointed investigator and be prepared to present any factual defense that may be reasonably and arguably available to the defendant.

c. To brief the law of the case and be prepared to present any legal defense that may be reasonably and arguably available to the defendant.

d. To negotiate with the prosecutor for the most favorable solution of the case as can be achieved through a plea agreement.

e. To try the case to conclusion either with or without a jury, file post-trial motions, give notice of appeal and appeal the case pursuant to the standards and requirements of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure.

f. To maintain reasonable communication and contact with the client at all times and keep the client informed of the status of the case.

g. Advise the client on all matters involving the case and such collateral matters as may reasonably be required to aid the client in making appropriate decisions about the case.

h.  Standards must require attorneys to submit by October 15 each year the percentage of the attorney's practice time that was dedicated to work based on appointments accepted in this county for adult criminal and juvenile delinquency cases for the prior 12 months that begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. [Art. 26.04(j)(4), CCP] 

Prompt Appointment of Counsel

All appointments to represent indigent juveniles shall be made at or before the time of the first detention hearing or upon request if the indigent juvenile is not detained, and shall be made by the judge holding the detention hearing or the Clerk in whose Court the case is pending.  Unless the court finds that the appointment of counsel is not feasible due to exigent circumstances, the court shall appoint counsel within a reasonable time before the first detention hearing is held to represent the child at that hearing. [Sec. 54.01(b-1), FC]

For indigent juveniles, and if the juvenile is not detained, counsel will be appointed, on, or before, the fifth (5th) working day, after the petition, is served on the juvenile.

Attorney Selection Process

Appointments from the list of attorneys approved by the judges shall be in the order in which they appear on the list unless otherwise ordered by the judge of the court making said appointment.

Fee and Expense Payment Process

Following are the Fee Structure for Juvenile Proceedings, to-wit:

A. The following are set as the minimum and maximum allowable fees for appointed Lead Counsel in all Juvenile proceedings:

1. Proceedings to Dispose of Juvenile Charges and Writs of Habeas Corpus involving Juveniles:

a. $100.00 to $300.00 for plea bargained dispositions of Juvenile proceedings to be set at the sole discretion of the trial Judge based upon the complexity and seriousness of the juvenile charges.

b. $100.00 to $300.00 for plea bargained dispositions of Writs of Habeas Corpus in Juvenile matters to be set at the sole discretion of the trial Judge based upon the complexity and seriousness of the juvenile charges.

c. $25.00 to $100.00 per hour for trial time to be determined at the sole discretion of the trial judge based upon the complexity and seriousness of the juvenile charges or Writ of Habeas Corpus.

d. Only one fee will be paid for multiple charges for separate episodes charged in the same instrument; but each separate juvenile charge for separate episodes contained in separate instruments disposed of by plea bargain involving the same Juvenile will be compensated at the rate of $75.00 each.

e. The Judge of the Juvenile court shall award trial fees based upon personal knowledge of the time in court and complexity of the trial and post-trial proceedings.

2. Appeals:

a. SB 7 requires that the trial counsel handle the appointed case through time for giving Notice of Appeal; thereafter an appellate attorney will be appointed from the approved list of attorney on the felony appeal appointment list.

b. By the hour not to exceed $100.00 per hour for the Court of Appeal and to the Court of Criminal Appeals or Texas Supreme Court. The amount shall be determined based upon the complexity and seriousness of the criminal charges.

3. Other:

a. For all other fees for appointed counsel for procedures not mentioned above (as, for example, a writ of mandamus or for reasonable compensation where the attorney is removed in favor of an earlier appointed counsel for representation of a defendant who has multiple cases), the court shall set a fee based upon the complexity and seriousness of the procedure of not less than $25.00 per hour nor more than $100.00 per hour in the sole discretion of the trial judge.

b. Expenses incurred without prior approval shall be reimbursed if expenses are reasonably necessary and reasonably incurred [Arts.26.05(d) & 26.052(h) CCP].

4. Multiple Case Appointments:

a. Attorneys who represent a Juvenile who has additional cases or motions to revoke or adjudicate probation shall be appointed in all additional cases against the same Juvenile. In the event more than one attorney has been appointed in different cases, the court shall appoint the earlier attorney and remove the later attorney from representation of the juvenile with reasonable compensation according to time expended as provided above.


This Plan shall be administered and maintained by  The District Clerk of Lamar County, Texas or such other individual for each court as may be designated by the Judge of that Court. The administrator of the plan is responsible for the following:

A. Gathering the necessary factual information to permit the establishment and operation of the Plan for the appointment and removal of attorneys for the stated purposes of the Plan.

B. Maintaining and updating the records on the attorneys who have been approved and disapproved by the judges and Juvenile Board for appointments.

C. Investigating attorney qualifications.

D. Having access to the records of the County and District Clerks and the County Auditor of attorney payments and related records.

E. Aiding in the investigation of extraordinary claims for fees.

F. Maintaining the list(s) of attorneys and cases for which they are deemed to be qualified under this Plan.

G. Providing liaison with the office of court administration, the Task force on Indigent Defense and other agencies.

H. Coordinating the reporting requirements for the Plan with the judges, Juvenile Board, and the County and District Clerks.

Plan Documents
Lamar Juvenile Board Affidavit of Indigence.tif (11/16/2009 4:21:29 PM) view
Lamar Juvenile Board Attorney Application for Appointment.doc (11/16/2009 4:16:18 PM) view
Lamar Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Schedule.wpd (9/30/2010 11:41:34 AM) view
Lamar Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Voucher.doc (11/16/2009 4:20:39 PM) view