Lynn County Court Plan
Preamble
11/20/2009
In accordance with the Texas Fair Defense Act, Lynn County, Texas adopts the following plan to provide for the appointment of counsel to represent indigent defendants in County Court.
Prompt Magistration
10/17/2016
 Sheriff's Responsibility

The Sheriff of Lynn County shall ensure that within 48 hours after arrest, every arrestee shall be brought before a magistrate for a magistrate to set bail and inform the accused person of his/her rights, including right to court appointed counsel if indigent.

 Magistrate Responsibilities

         At the magistrate’s hearing the responsible judge shall comply with the Texas Fair Defense Act by:

admonishing the accused of the magistrate and Miranda warnings as provided by law;

notification of indigent representation rights;

making of record of the magistrate warnings and right to court appointed counsel for indigent accused persons;

notification of right to counsel and right to court appointed counsel if indigent;

inquiry as to whether the defendant is requesting court appointed counsel;

provide defendant with a "Request for Appointment of Counsel and Determination of Indigence" and reasonable assistance in completing the form; and immediate referral of applications for appointed counsel to the County Judge for appointment of counsel.

The magistrate shall, within 24 hours, transmit the defendant’s "Request for Appointment of Counsel and Determination of Indigence" to the County Judge. 

For persons arrested on out-of-county warrants, the magistrate will ask the defendant if he/she would like to request appointed counsel.  The magistrate will record the response, and if counsel is requested, the magistrate will provide the arrestee with the appropriate forms for requesting counsel.  The magistrate will ensure assistance in completing the forms at the same time.  The forms will be transmitted to the appointing authority in the county issuing the warrant within 24 hours of the request being made.  Regarding the appointment of counsel, persons arrested in other counties on local warrants must be appointed counsel in the county that issued the warrant within 1 working day of receipt of the request in the counties with the population of 250,000 or more and within 3 working days of receipt of the request in counties under 250,000.  Persons arrested on out-of-county warrants must be appointed counsel in the county of arrest if the person has not been transferred or released to the custody of the county issuing the warrant before the 11th day after the date of the arrest. [ Art. 1.05(c-1), CCP].

Indigence Determination Standards
8/9/2010
Procedures and Financial Standards for Determining Indigence Status

At the magistrate’s hearing, each defendant shall be provided an opportunity to request court appointed counsel, if indigent. Each requesting defendant shall complete and file a sworn "Request for Appointment of Counsel and Determination of Indigence", in a form approved by the County Judge. The magistrate will ensure that reasonable assistance in completing the necessary forms for requesting appointment of counsel is provided. If the defendant does not speak and/or understand the English language or is deaf, the magistrate shall inform the person in a manner consistent with Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 38.30 and 38.31.

The County Judge shall review the "Request for Appointment of Counsel and Determination of Indigence" and such other information bearing on the financial status of the defendant and make a determination of indigence status and appoint counsel where required by law within three working days after receiving the request for court appointed counsel.

The County Judge shall consider the following standards for determining indigence and such other reasonable factors as the court finds to have a bearing on the financial inability of a defendant to retain counsel:

Defendant’s income from any and all sources;

Sources of the defendant’s income;

Assets of the defendant;

Property owned by the defendant, or in which the defendant has an interest;

Outstanding obligations of the defendant;

Necessary expenses of the defendant;

The number and age of the defendant’s legal dependents;

Spousal income available to the defendant; and

Such other reasonable factors as determined by the Judge.

 The Judge shall not consider whether the defendant has posted bail, except to the extent that it reflects on the defendant’s financial circumstances.

Defendants receiving assistance from any of the following sources shall be considered indigent:

Food stamps;

Medicaid;

Temporary assistance for needy families;

Public housing; or

Supplemental security income.

Defendants with annual average income meeting the following maximum requirements shall be considered indigent:  up to and including 200% of the Federal poverty guidelines as published in the Federal Register.
 
The Judge may also appoint counsel in the interest of justice.
Minimum Attorney Qualifications
10/21/2013

Court appointed counsel shall make every reasonable effort to contact the defendant not later than the end of the first working day after appointment and to interview the defendant as soon as practicable.

Court appointed counsel shall comply with all laws, rules, procedures, and ethical provisions for providing reasonable assistance of counsel to the defendant.

Court appointed counsel shall maintain a high standard of ethical conduct and always be completely candid with the trial court.

Court appointed counsel shall timely inform the defendant of matters relating to the preparation, trial, and disposition of the case; appellate and writ rights, deadlines, and procedures for proper processing, and such other matters as necessary to provide reasonable assistance of counsel.

Court appointed counsel shall represent a defendant until the defendant is acquitted, appeals are exhausted, or the court, after entering a finding of good cause on the record, relieves the attorney and/or replaces the attorney with other counsel.

Court appointed counsel shall submit a request for payment for services performed, itemizing the dates services were rendered, a brief description of the services, and the number of hours expended to perform the services, and except for an attorney serving under an Indigent Defense Contract, no payment shall be made until such request is submitted.

Court appointed counsel shall meet the following standards, said attorney shall:

Be a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas;

Professionally perform duties and responsibilities of a licensed attorney for the State of Texas; and

An attorney shall submit by October 15th each year a statement that describes the percentage of the attorney's practice time that was dedicated to work based on appointments accepted in this county for adult criminal cases and juvenile delinquency cases for the prior 12 months that begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The report must be submitted through the online form to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. 

Complete annually such Continuing Legal Education programs as required by the Texas Judicial Council and requirements of Lynn County for attorneys representing indigent accused persons, which shall include at least ten (10) hours of Continuing Legal Education in handling criminal cases.

The County Judge may replace an attorney if the appointed attorney does not make an effort to contact the defendant by the end of the first working day or does not interview the defendant as soon as possible, or may sanction said attorney for violation of those provisions. At any time, at the judge’s discretion, the County Judge may replace an appointed attorney for incompetency or in the interest of justice.

The County Judge may remove an attorney from consideration for appointments if the attorney intentionally or repeatedly does not fulfill the duties required by law, rules, local rules, or provisions for providing reasonable assistance of counsel or complying with the requirements for inclusion on the approved list for counsel for indigent accused persons.

The County Judge shall annually review and reform the list of eligible court appointed counsel and cause the list to be posted and made available to the public upon request.

Prompt Appointment of Counsel
10/17/2016

A.    Prompt Appointment of Counsel

The Court will advise all unrepresented defendants of the right to counsel and procedures for requesting counsel

                                i.            Counsel shall be appointed as soon as possible to indigent defendants, but no later than the end of the third working day after the date on which the appointing authority receives the defendant’s request for court appointed counsel. Working day means Monday through Friday, excluding official state holidays.  Counsel must be appointed whether or not a case has been filed in the trial court.

                              ii.            If the defendant is released from custody prior to the appointment of counsel, appointment of counsel is not required until the defendant’s first court appearance or when adversarial judicial proceedings are initiated, whichever comes first.

                        

                      

B.     Waiver of the Right to Counsel

                                                       If a defendant wishes to waive the right to counsel for purposes of entering a guilty plea or proceeding to trial, the court shall advise the defendant of the nature of the charges against the defendant and, if the defendant is proceeding to trial, the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation

                        

                  

If an indigent defendant is arrested in another county based on this county's warrant, counsel will be appointed within 3 working days of this county's receipt of the           request for counsel.


                      If a defendant is arrested in this county based on another county's warrant, counsel will be appointed for the defendant if, on the eleventh day after the arrest, the                                defendant is still in this county's custody.

                      If a defendant wishes to request counsel proir to the initial appearance, the forms required to request counsel may be obtained at the Texas Indigent Defense                                       Commission's website at http://tidc.tamu.edu/public.net/ or from:Lynn County Judge Office, 1501 South 1st St. Tahoka, TX 79373.  The defendant may submit                                 these forms to: Lynn County Judge's Office, 1501 South 1st St. Tahoka, TX 79373 or  P. O. Box 1167 Tahoka, TX 79373.


Attorney Selection Process
11/20/2009

The County Judge shall prepare and distribute an "Application/Affidavit" to licensed attorneys practicing in the district who have indicated a desire to be considered for appointment as counsel to indigent accused persons.

Each attorney requesting such appointments shall complete and return the "Application/Affidavit" to the County Court, P.O. Box 1167, Tahoka, Texas 79373.

The County Judge shall approve and post a list of the names of attorneys approved to represent indigent accused persons in the County Court. From the approved list, attorneys shall be appointed in the order in which their names appear, unless good cause is shown that a particular attorney would be specially qualified to represent a specific defendant. If it is anticipated that Defendant will be appointed an attorney out of a related felony case, that same attorney will be appointed to represent the Defendant on the related misdemeanor case.

The County Judge, upon any finding of indigence and request for court appointed counsel, shall sign an "Order Appointing Attorney" and file same with the County Clerk. The staff of the County Judge shall immediately deliver a copy of the "Order Appointing Attorney," by fax, mail, or in person, to the attorney, the defendant, and the County Attorney.

 
 
 
Fee and Expense Payment Process
11/23/2009

Court appointed counsel shall receive such reasonable compensation as established by a fee schedule filed with the Commissioners Courts of Lynn County. The fee schedule shall comply with the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 26.05 and all applicable law.

If the presiding judge disapproves the requested amount, the Judge shall make written findings stating the amount of payment approved and the reason for approving an amount different from the requested amount. The attorney whose request for payment has been disapproved may, by written motion, file an appeal with the Presiding Judge of the Administrative Region.

Appointment of Investigators and Experts for Indigent Defense and Procedure for Expenses

Counsel appointed in a non-capital case shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses, including expenses for investigation and for mental health and other experts. Expenses incurred with and without prior court approval shall be reimbursed, according to the procedures set forth below. When possible, prior court approval should be obtained before incurring expenses for investigation and for mental health and other experts.

Procedure With Prior Court Approval:

Appointed counsel may file with the trial court a pretrial ex parte confidential request for advance payment of investigative and expert expenses. The request for expenses must state, as applicable:

The type of investigation to be conducted or the type of expert to be retained;

specific facts that suggest the investigation will result in admissible evidence or that the services of an expert are reasonably necessary to assist in the preparation of a potential defense; and

an itemized list of anticipated expenses for each investigation or each expert.

The court shall grant the request for advance payment of expenses in whole or in part if the request is reasonable. If the court denies in whole or in part the request for expenses, the court shall:

state the reasons for the denial in writing;

attach the denial to the confidential request; and

submit the request and denial as a sealed exhibit to the record.

Procedure Without Prior Court Approval:

Appointed counsel may incur investigative or expert expenses without prior approval of the court. On presentation of a claim for reimbursement, the court shall order reimbursement of counsel for the expenses, if the expenses are reasonably necessary and reasonably incurred. Unreasonable or unnecessary expenses will not be approved.

Plan Documents
Lynn County Court Affidavit of Indigence.pdf (10/27/2015 10:53:36 AM) view
Lynn County Court Attorney Application for Appointment.docx (10/21/2013 3:34:35 PM) view
Lynn County Court Attorney Fee Schedule.wpd (11/20/2009 4:00:58 PM) view
Lynn County Court Attorney Fee Voucher.wpd (11/20/2009 3:37:08 PM) view
Lynn County Court Attorney Update Letter.wpd (11/23/2009 9:59:34 AM) view
Lynn County Court Lynn County Court Attorney Update Letter.pdf (10/27/2015 10:56:58 AM) view
Lynn County Court Magistrates Warning Form.wpd (11/20/2009 3:28:01 PM) view
Lynn County Court Magistrate’s Warning Form.pdf (10/28/2015 2:22:25 PM) view
Lynn County Court Order to Pay Attorney.wpd (11/20/2009 3:50:33 PM) view