Morris District Court and County Court Plan
Be it remembered that the District and County Judges for Morris County, Texas, hereby adopt, order, establish and order published these countywide procedures, rules, and orders for the timely and fair appointment of counsel for indigent accused persons in Morris County, Texas. This document is the Morris County Indigent Defense Plan that conforms with requirements of statutes passed by the Texas Legislature and approved by the Governor and rules and regulations established by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.
A. Arresting Officer Responsibilities
i. The arresting officer, or the person having custody of the arrestee, shall ensure that every arrestee shall be brought before a magistrate without unnecessary delay, but not later than 48 hours after the person is arrested.
ii. Unless arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant, bench warrant, capias, or other order of a magistrate or judge, necessary forms establishing probable cause must be completed and filed at the time an arrestee is booked into jail for any felony or misdemeanor punishable by incarceration.
iii. Release of defendants arrested without warrant
1. A person arrested for a misdemeanor without a warrant and who is detained in jail must be released not later than the 24th hour after arrest, on a bond in an amount not to exceed $5,000, if a magistrate has not determined that probable cause exists to believe that the person committed the offense.
2. A person arrested for a felony without a warrant and who is detained in jail must be released not later than the 48th hour after arrest, on a bond in an amount not to exceed $10,000, if a magistrate has not determined that probable cause exists to believe that the person committed the offense.
3. If requested by the state, a magistrate may postpone the release of the defendant for not more than 72 hours after the defendant's arrest if a probable cause determination has not been made, in compliance with the procedure set forth in Article 17.033, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
B. Magistrate Duties
i. At the Magistrate’s hearing, the magistrate should determine if accused can speak and understand English, or if the defendant is deaf.
ii. After making such determination, the magistrate shall, in an appropriate manner consistent with Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 38.30 and 38.31, do the following:
1. Advise the accused of the accusation against him/her and any affidavit filed therewith;
2. Admonish the accused of:
a. The right to retain counsel;
b. The right to remain silent;
c. The right to have an attorney present during any interview with peace officers or attorneys representing the state;
d. The right to terminate an interview at any time;
e. The right not to make a statement and that any statement made by the accused may be used against him/her; and
f. The right to an examining trial.
3. Inform the accused of the right to appointed counsel if the person cannot afford counsel and the procedures for requesting appointment of counsel.
4. Inquire as to whether accused is requesting that counsel be appointed.
5. Provide accused persons requesting appointed counsel with necessary forms for requesting appointment of counsel and ensure that reasonable assistance in completing required forms is provided to the accused at the time of the magistrate’s hearing.
6. If the magistrate has reason to believe the accused is not mentally competent, the magistrate shall enter a request for counsel on behalf of the accused. Such a request will alert the appointing authority that counsel competent to represent mentally ill persons should be appointed.
iii. In cases where the individual was arrested without an arrest warrant, bench warrant, capias, or other order of magistrate or judge, the magistrate shall determine if there is probable cause to believe the person committed the offense.
1. If probable cause has not been determined by a magistrate:
a. A person arrested for a misdemeanor must be released on bond, in an amount not to exceed $5,000, not later than 24 hours after the person's arrest.
b. A person arrested for a felony must be released on bond, in an amount not to exceed $10,000, not later than 48 hours after the person’s arrest.
c. If requested by the state, the magistrate may postpone the release of the defendant for not more than 72 hours after the defendant's arrest, in compliance with the procedure set forth in Article 17.033, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
iv. The magistrate shall set the amount of bail and any conditions of bond for the accused, if bail is allowed by law and has not been set by the court or magistrate issuing a warrant.
v. The magistrate shall record the following:
1. The date and time the accused was arrested and the date and time when he/she was brought before the magistrate.
2. Whether the magistrate informed the accused of the right to request appointment of counsel and asked the accused whether he/she wants to request counsel.
3. Whether the accused requested appointment of counsel
vi. If the magistrate is not authorized to appoint counsel and if the accused requests appointment of counsel, the magistrate shall transmit or cause to be transmitted the magistrate form and any other forms requesting appointment of counsel to the Morris County Justice of the Peace on rotation duty at that time. The forms requesting appointment of counsel shall be transmitted without unnecessary delay, but not later than 24 hours after the person arrested requests appointment of counsel.
vii. If the magistrate is authorized to appoint counsel, the magistrate shall make a determination of indigence and appoint counsel if the defendant is indigent within three working days unless the County has a U.S. Census population over 250,000, in which case counsel shall be appointed within one working day.
viii. If a request for counsel was made at magistration, the appointing authority shall forward the magistrate form and any other forms requesting appointment of counsel to the appropriate clerk to be put into the case file.
ix. If a request for counsel was not made at magistration, the magistrate will forward the magistrate form to the clerk to be put into the case file.
x. 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.
Indigence Determination Standards
A. Definitions, as used in this rule:
i. “Indigent” means a person who is not financially able to employ counsel.
ii. “Net household income” means all income of the accused and spousal income actually available to the accused. Such income shall include: take-home wages and salary (gross income earned minus those deductions required by law or as a condition of employment); net self-employment income (gross income minus business expenses, and those deductions required by law or as a condition of operating the business); regular payments from a governmental income maintenance program, alimony, child support, public or private pensions, or annuities; and income from dividends, interest, rents, royalties, or periodic receipts from estates or trusts. Seasonal or temporary income shall be considered on an annualized basis, averaged together with periods in which the accused has no income or lesser income.
iii. “Household” means all individuals who are actually dependent on the accused for financial support.
iv. “The cost of obtaining competent private legal representation” includes the reasonable cost of support services such as investigators and expert witnesses as necessary and appropriate given the nature of the case.
B. Eligibility for Appointment
i. An accused is presumed indigent if, at the time of requesting appointed counsel, any of the following conditions or factors are present:
1. The accused or accused’s dependents are eligible to receive food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, or public housing;
2. The accused’s net household income does not exceed 125% of the Poverty Guidelines as revised annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and published in the Federal Register; or
3. The accused is currently serving a sentence in a correctional institution, is currently residing in a public mental health facility, or is subject to a proceeding in which admission or commitment to such a mental health facility is sought.
ii. An accused who does not meet any of the standards above shall nevertheless be considered indigent if the accused is unable to retain private counsel without substantial hardship to the accused or the accused’s dependents. In considering if obtaining private counsel will create a substantial hardship, the appointing authority shall take into account:
1. the nature of the criminal 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 accused and the accused’s dependents;
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 accused.
iii. Factors NOT to be considered in determining indigence:
1. The accused’s posting of bail or ability to post bail may not be considered in determining whether the accused is indigent.
2. The resources available to friends or relatives of the accused may not be considered in determining whether the accused is indigent.
iv. Only the accused's financial circumstances as measured by the financial standards stated in this rule shall be used as the basis for determining indigence.
C. Indigence Proceedings:
i. The appointing authority can require the accused to respond to questions about the accused’s financial status, produce documentation supporting financial information provided, and/or order a court official to verify financial information provided.
ii. Information gathered for determining indigence, both in the affidavit of indigence and through oral examination, may not be for any purpose other than:
1. Determining if accused is (or is not) indigent; or
2. Impeaching direct testimony of accused regarding the accused’s indigence.
However, the affidavit of indigence or other documents may be used for prosecution in a separate matter if an accused hides or omits assets; hides, omits or substantially under reports income; or commits or attempts to commit a
fraud against the State of Texas or any County.
iii. A request by the appointing authority for additional information, documentation, and/or verification cannot delay appointment of counsel beyond time lines specified in these rules and contained in Code of Criminal Procedure article 1.051.
iv. An accused determined to be indigent is presumed to remain indigent for the remainder of the case unless a material change in the accused’s financial circumstances occurs.
1. An accused’s status as indigent or not indigent may be reviewed in a formal hearing at any stage of court proceedings, on a motion for reconsideration by the accused, the accused’s attorney, or the attorney representing the state. The accused’s indigent status will be presumed not to have changed. The presumption can be rebutted in the review proceedings based on the following:
a. Evidence of a material change in the accused’s financial circumstances, as a result of which the accused does not meet the standards for indigence contained in these rules; or
b. Additional information regarding the accused’s financial circumstances that shows that the accused does not meet the standards for indigence contained in these rules including erroneous or fraudulent information provided at the time counsel was appointed.
2. If an accused previously determined to be indigent is subsequently determined not to be indigent, the attorney shall be compensated by the county according to the fee schedule for hours reasonably expended on the case.
v. If the court determines that a defendant has financial resources that enable him to offset in part or in whole the costs of the legal services provided, including any expenses and costs, the court shall order the defendant to pay during the pendency of the charges or, if convicted, as court costs, the amount that it finds the defendant is able to pay.
1. If a magistrate believes or suspects that an accused has falsified, omitted income, altered, forged or otherwise suspects that the accused may be attempting to hide assets under report income or possibly commit a fraud against the County or the State of Texas, the magistrate shall proceed ahead and appoint the accused the next attorney on the list to avoid any delays in criminal cases. After appointing accused an attorney, the appointing magistrate shall report all suspected fraud, suspected falsification, omission of income or other suspected fraud, along with the accused's information to: The Office of the Administrative District Judge at 105 W. 1st Street in Mount Pleasant, TX 75455 by hand delivery within 48 hours. The appointing magistrate shall provide the District Judges with a copy of all documents they suspect are fraudulent.
The District Judge's Office may review the accused's indigency documents and appointment forms and at their discretion may:
(a) attempt to determine if the accused is indigent and assess the validity of any or all forms submitted by the accused for indigent determination or the appointment of an attorney
(b) contact the accused to verify the documents validity
(c) when appropriate, contact law enforcement for criminal charges relating to violations of Texas or federal law.
Minimum Attorney Qualifications
A. The Judges hearing criminal cases shall establish attorney appointment lists for the following categories of offenses below. Attorney's may apply for and be placed on multiple lists. Attorney's must be approved by the majority of judges to be placed on the appointment list. Attorney's shall follow and abide by any contract, to provide legal services to indigent defendants, entered and agreed to between the attorney and Morris County (a political subdivision of the State of Texas).
B. 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, by using the form prescribed by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, to the court administration office of Morris County, specifically the Morris County Auditors Office. Failure to file the prescribed report may result in removal of the attorney from the list of qualified indigent defense counsel eligible for appointment. The attorney list for Morris County, Texas shall consist of the names of all licensed attorney's with whom the Commissioner's Court of Morris County, Texas has entered into a contract for representation of indigent defendants in Morris County, Texas.
To be eligible for an appointment list, or to be awarded an indigent defense contract, an attorney must meet the following minimum requirements:
i. Misdemeanor Qualification Requirements:
1. All attorneys must ensure all information on their application is correct;
2. An attorney must be a licensed practicing attorney and a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas;
3. An attorney shall complete a minimum of 6 hours of CLE in the area of criminal law and procedure each year. All attorneys must file a certificate with the the auditors offices each year attesting to completion of the required CLE or submit documentation showing that the attorney is certified as a specialist in criminal law. Continuing legal education activity completed with-in a one year period immediately preceding an attorney’s initial reporting period may be used to meet the educational requirements for the initial year. Continuing legal education activity completed during any reporting period in excess of the minimum of required hours for such period may be applied to the following period’s requirement. The carryover provision applies to one year only;
4. An attorney may not have been the recipient of any public disciplinary action by the State Bar of Texas or any other attorney licensing authority of any state or the United States within the last one year;
5. An attorney must maintain an office capable of receiving email, fax, and telephone calls and shall promptly notify the Morris County District Clerk or Morris County Clerk of any email, fax or phone changes within one (1) business day after the change.
6. An attorney must have the ability to produce typed motions and orders;
7. An attorney shall promptly notify the District Clerks Office and District Court Judges, in writing, of any matter that would disqualify the attorney by law, regulation, rule or under these guidelines from receiving appointments to represent indignet defendants.
ii. State Jail and Third Degree Felony Case Qualification Requirements
1. An attorney must meet general requirements for misdemeanor appointments;
iii. First and Second Degree Felony Case Qualification Requirements
1. An attorney must meet the general requirements for State Jail and Third Degree Felony appointments.
2. An attorney must have experience as 1st or 2nd chair in prior felony case(s) tried to verdict before a jury. The styles and cause numbers of these cases must be listed in the District Courts appointment application form.
iv. Capital Case Qualification Requirements:
1. Lead trial counsel must be on the list of attorneys approved by the local selection committee of this Administrative Judicial Region for appointment as lead counsel in death penalty cases, as provided in Article 26.052, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
2. Second chair counsel must be on the list of attorneys approved by the local selection committee of this administrative judicial region for appointment as lead trial counsel or second chair counsel in death penalty cases, as provided in Article 26.052, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
3. Appellate counsel must be on the list of attorneys approved by the local selection committee of this administrative judicial region for appointment as appellate counsel in death penalty cases, as provided in Article 26.052, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
v. Appeal Qualification Requirements - An attorney must meet at least one of the following criteria:
1. Be currently board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; or
2. Have personally authored and filed at least three criminal appellate briefs or post-conviction writs of habeas corpus; or
3. Have submitted an appellate writing sample approved by a majority of the judges; or
4. Have worked as a briefing clerk of an appellate court for a period of at least one year.
B. Approval for Appointment Lists / Contract Attorney
i. Misdemeanor List – An attorney must be approved by the County Judge.
ii. State Jail and Third Degree Felony, First and Second Degree Felony List, Capital Case List, and Appeal List - An attorney must be approved for each list by the District Court Judges.
iii. An attorney seeking to enter a contract to provide Indigent Defense Services must be approved by a majority of the Judges hearing criminal cases and the Commissioners Court must approve their contract for services.
C. Removal from Appointment List - The judges will monitor attorney performance on a continuing basis to assure the competency of a contract attorney and attorneys on the list. An attorney may be removed or suspended, as appropriate, from one or more appointment lists or have their contract terminated by a majority vote of the judges.
i. Grounds for Removal
An attorney may be removed from the appointment list or have his / her contract for services terminated if the attorney:
1. has twice or more failed to contact or interview clients in a timely manner as required by Article 26.04(j)(1), CCP;
2. has submitted a claim for legal services not performed as specified in Article 26.05(e), Code of Criminal Procedure
3. fails to maintain compliance with each of the appointment list guidelines;
4. has been found by a court to have provided ineffective assistance of counsel
5. has violated a rule of professional responsibility;
6. has been convicted of or received a deferred adjudication for any an offense, other than an offense punishable by a fine only;
7. is under indictment or being formally charged with an offense, other than an offense punishable by a fine only; or
8. has intentionally misrepresented statements on the application to be awarded a contract or to be eligible for the appointment list.
An attorney may also be removed from the appointment list or have his or her contract terminated for another stated good cause.
D. Reinstatement to Appointment Lists or Contract Continuation
i. An attorney who was removed from the appointment list or whose contract was suspended for non-completion of the required CLE hours may be immediately reinstated upon providing proof that the attorney has completed the required hours so long as the attorney otherwise meets the other qualifications under this Plan.
ii. An attorney who has been removed from the appointment list or whose contract was terminated for any other reason and who wishes to be reinstated must apply through the original application process.
E. Duties of Appointed Counsel - Appointed Counsel shall:
i. Notify the court within 72 hours of the receipt of appointment;
ii. Make every reasonable effort to:
1. Contact the defendant by the end of the first working day after the date on which the attorney is appointed; and
2. Interview the defendant as soon as practicable after the attorney is appointed;
iii. Represent the defendant until:
1. Charges are dismissed;
2. The defendant is acquitted;
3. Appeals are exhausted; or
4. The attorney is relieved of his duties by the court or replaced by other counsel after a finding of good cause entered on the record.
iv. Investigate, either by self or through an investigator, the facts of the case and be prepared to present any factual defense(s) that may be reasonably and arguably available to the defendant;
v. Brief the law of the case and be prepared to present any legal defense(s) that may be reasonably and arguably available to the defendant;
vi. Be prepared to negotiate with the prosecutor for the most favorable resolution of the case as can be achieved through a plea agreement;
vii. Be prepared to try the case to conclusion either with or without a jury;
viii. Be prepared to 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;
ix. Maintain reasonable communication and contact with the client and keep the client informed of the status of the case(s). If a client is in custody and has not been sentenced in the appointed case or any other case against the incarcerated client, the
attorney assigned the case shall keep contact and communication with the client at a minimum of twice per month until the client is no longer incarcerated or until the appointed case is disposed. The attorney shall keep a record of all contact with
incarcerated clients and, upon request, provide the court with these contact dates. The attorney can use whatever method he/she chooses to stay in contact with locally incarcerated clients and record keeping.
x. Advise the client on all matters involving the case and such collateral matters as may reasonably be required to aid the client is making appropriate decisions about the case; and
xi. Perform the attorney’s duty owed to the defendant in accordance with these procedures, the requirements of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and applicable rules of ethics.
xii. Manage attorney’s workload to allow for the provision of quality representation and the execution of the responsibilities listed in these rules in every case.
Prompt Appointment of Counsel
A. Prompt Appointment of 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.
III. If an indigent defendant is arrested in another county based on this county’s warrant, counsel will be appointed within three working days of this county’s receipt of the request for counsel.
IV. 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.
V. If a defendant wishes to request counsel prior 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/. The defendant may submit these forms to: the
appointing authority listed below. The court will rule on all requests for counsel submitted in this manner.
B. Appointment Authority
I. If no case has been filed in the trial court, the appointing authority for misdemeanors is: Justices of Peace, whomever is on rotation duty at the time
II. If no case has been filed in the trial court, the appointing authority for felonies is: Justices of Peace, whomever is on rotation duty at the time
III.. If the case has been filed in the trial court, the appointing authority is: Justices of Peace, whomever is on rotation duty at the time.
iv. The District or County Judges may appoint counsel if deemed necessary by the court.
C. Defendants Appearing Without Counsel - If a defendant appears without counsel in any adversary judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement:
I. The court may not direct or encourage the defendant to communicate with the attorney representing the state until the court advises the defendant of the right to counsel and the procedure for requesting appointed counsel and the defendant has been given a reasonable opportunity to request appointed counsel.
II. If the defendant has requested appointed counsel, the court may not direct or encourage the defendant to communicate with the attorney representing the state unless the appointing authority has denied the request and, subsequent to the denial, the defendant:
1. Has been given a reasonable opportunity to retain and has failed to retain appointed counsel; or
2. Waived or has waived the opportunity to retain private counsel.
III. The attorney representing the state may not:
1. Initiate or encourage an attempt to obtain from the defendant a waiver of the right to counsel; or
2. Communicate with a defendant who has requested the appointment of counsel, unless the appointing authority has denied the request and subsequent to the denial, the defendant:
a. Has been given a reasonable opportunity to retain counsel; or
b. Waives or has waived the opportunity to retain private counsel.
C. Waiver of the Right to Counsel
i. A defendant may voluntarily and intelligently waive the right to counsel.
ii. A waiver obtained in violation of paragraph B above is presumed invalid.
iii. 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 the court determines that the waiver is voluntarily and intelligently waived, the court shall provide the defendant with a statement substantially in the following form, which, if signed by the defendant, shall be filed with and become part of the record of the proceedings.
“I have been advised this ___ day of ____, 2___, by the (name of court) Court of my right to representation by counsel in the case pending against me. I have been further advised that if I am unable to afford counsel, one will be appointed for me free of charge. Understanding my right to have counsel appointed for me free of charge if I am not financially able to employ counsel, I wish to waive that right and request the court to proceed with my case without an attorney being appointed for me. I hereby waive my right to counsel. (signature of defendant)”
iv. A defendant may withdraw a waiver of the right to counsel at any time but is not entitled to repeat a proceeding previously held or waived solely on the grounds of the subsequent appointment or retention of counsel. If the defendant withdraws a waiver, the trial court, in its discretion, may provide the appointed counsel 10 days to prepare.
Attorney Selection Process
Contract for services
Morris County, acting by and through it’s Commissioners Court, has entered into an agreement with Jerry Pratt, Jr., herein called contractor, to provide services to those defendants found to be indigent for Non-Capital Cases and eligible for appointed counsel services under this plan. In the event of a conflict of interest, and after a hearing and order determining such conflict, the Judge of the court in which the case is pending shall appoint G.F. Stovall to provide legal services to indigent defendants in Morris County in the event of a conflict of interest involving Jerry Pratt, Jr., the primary contractor. A copy of both contracts are attached to this plan.
Attorney Selection Process for Adults (Participation in the Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases)
Capital Felony Cases
The Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases shall be appointed to all capital felony cases unless good cause exists to appoint private counsel.
If a co-defendant requests appointment of counsel and is determined to be indigent, the Appointing Authority shall appoint counsel pursuant to the standards and procedures stated in this Section.
If private counsel is appointed to a co-defendant, rather the Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases, co-counsel will be appointed using the standards and procedures stated in this Section.
The Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases may refuse to accept appointment to a case if:
A conflict of interest exists;
The Office has insufficient resources to provide adequate representation;
The Office is incapable of providing representation in accordance with the rules of professional conduct;
Acceptance of the appointment would violate the maximum allowable caseloads established for the office; or
The Office shows other good cause for refusing appointment.
The Appointing Authority shall immediately contact the attorneys appointed and the Regional Public Defenders Office by phone, fax, e-mail or in person and shall notify the attorneys of the appointment and the last known location of the defendant.
Judicial Removal from Case:
The judge presiding over a criminal case may remove appointed counsel upon entering a written order showing good cause for such removal, including without limitation, the following:
Counsel’s failure to appear at a court hearing;
Counsel’s failure to comply with the requirements imposed upon counsel by this plan;
Current information about the defendant and the charges against the defendant indicate that another qualified attorney is more appropriate for the defendant under these rules;
Replacement of appointed counsel in a death penalty case is required under Article 26.052(e), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure;
The appointed counsel shows good cause for being removed, such as illness, workload or scheduling difficulties;
The defendant requests an attorney, other than trial counsel, for appeal; or
The defendant shows good cause for removal of counsel, including counsel’s persistent or prolonged failure to communicate with the defendant.
Appointment of Replacement Counsel - Whenever appointed counsel is removed under this section, replacement counsel shall immediately be selected and appointed in accordance with the procedures described in this plan.
Fee and Expense Payment Process
A. Court appointed counsel and, if applicable, the regional public defenders office or an appointed prosecuting attorney's office, shall be compensated for all reasonable and appropriate services rendered. Compensation shall be reasonable for time and effort expended and will be in accordance with the fee schedule adopted and approved by a majority of the judges hearing criminal cases in the county, pursuant to the contract of a contracting attorney, pursuant to this court plan or at the District Judges discretion. Capital Felony cases shall be compensated at a discretionary rate set by the Administrative District Judge, but, shall be no less than $75 per hour and may include reimbursementment for necessary expenses (See Payment of Appointed Counsel and the Regional Public Defenders Office on Capital Cases section below).
B. Payment Process: Payments to the Regional Public Defenders Office, appellate attorney, appointed special prosecutors, appointed pro-tem attorney or appointed prosecuting attorneys office fees will be made in accordance with the rules set forth in this court plan or in accordance with the contract of a contracting attorney.
i. An appointed attorney shall fill out and submit a fee voucher to the court for services rendered.
ii. The trial judge presiding over the proceedings shall review the request for compensation and either approve or disapprove of the amount requested.
1. If a judge disapproves a request for compensation, the judge shall make written findings, stating the amount of payment that the judge approves and each reason for approving an amount different from the requested amount.
2. An attorney whose request for payment is disapproved or is not otherwise acted on by the 60th day after the date the request for payment is submitted may appeal the disapproval or failure to act by filing a motion with the presiding judge of this administrative judicial region.
C. Payment of Expenses:
i. Court appointed counsel and, if applicable, the Regional Public Defenders offiappellatelete attorney, appointed special prosecutor, appointed &npro-tem or prosecuting attorneys office will be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, including expenses for investigation and for mental health and other experts. Expenses incurred with and without prior approval shall be paid according to the procedures set forth below. Whenever possible prior court approval should be obtained before expenses are incurred.
ii. Procedure With Prior Court Approval:
1. 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 the below, as applicable:
a. The type of investigation to be conducted or the type of expert to be retained;
b. 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
c. An itemized list of anticipated expenses for each investigation and/or each expert.
2. 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:
a. State the reasons for the denial in writing;
b. Attach the denial to the confidential request; and
c. Submit the request and denial as a sealed exhibit to the record.
iii. 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.
A. Appointment of Special Prosecutors, Attorneys Pro-Tem and Appointed Prosecutors office
i. If the court approves the appointment of a special prosecutor or an appointed prosecutors office in any criminal case, the appointment shall pay $75 (seventy-five) dollars per hour to the special prosecutor, attorney pro-tem or appointed prosecutors office. The administrative District Judge may at his/her discretion approve expenses for these appointments and may include but are not limited to: private investigators, expert witnesses, general expenses, etc. A special prosecutor, Attorney Pro-Tem or appointed prosecutors office, should first obtain authorization from the administrative District Judge on any additional expenses that are necessary in the case that exceed $5,000 (five thousand dollars).
ii. Special prosecutors, attorney pro-tem or an appointed prosecutors office shall submit their detailed bill of all hours and expenses incurred to the Administrative District Judge for approval of payment, after the disposition of the case. The Administrative District Judge may review the bill and request further clarification or a more detailed bill if necessary.
B. Payment of Appointed Counsel and the Regional Public Defenders Office on Capital Cases
i. Due to the complexity of Capital Felony cases, payment to appointed Counsel or to the Regional Public Defender Office or other appointed prosecutor or appointed prosecutors office will be determined by the Administrative District Judge. In all Capital Felony cases payments to appointed attorneys or the Regional Public Defenders office shall not be less than $75 per hour, plus reasonable and necessary expenses, if applicable.
Morris District and County Court Affidavit of Indigence.doc (10/11/2017 1:14:33 PM) view
Morris District and County Court Attorney Fee Schedule.doc (8/4/2020 5:16:01 PM) view
Morris District and County Court Attorney Fee Voucher.doc (9/27/2011 11:44:36 PM) view
Morris District and County Court Contracts for Indigent Defense Services.pdf (10/2/2021 11:37:41 AM) view
Morris District and County Court Indigent Defense Conflict Attorney Contract.pdf (10/2/2021 11:39:26 AM) view
Morris District and County Court Magistrate’s Warning Form.doc (7/11/2011 1:59:26 PM) view
Morris District and County Court Morris District and County Court Conflict Contract for Indigent Defense Services.pdf (7/13/2020 3:56:13 PM) view
Morris District and County Court Morris District and County Court Contract for Indigent Defense Services (Backup and conflicts contract).pdf (10/30/2019 11:14:41 AM) view
Morris District and County Court Morris District and County Court Probable Cause Determination.pdf (10/13/2011 9:40:57 AM) view
Morris District and County Court Probable Cause Determination - Officer Affidavit.pdf (11/23/2009 1:45:29 PM) view