Dallas District Court Plan
Conduct Prompt and Accurate Magistration Proceedings
1.1 Each person arrested in Dallas County shall be brought before a magistrate within 48 hours of arrest.
1.2 The magistrate shall comply with all the requirements of Article 15.17 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure which provides as follows:
· The magistrate shall inform in clear language the person arrested of the accusation against him and of any affidavit filed therewith, of his right to retain counsel, of his right to remain silent, of his right to have an attorney present during any interview with peace officers or attorneys representing the state, of his right to terminate the interview at any time, and of his right to an examining trial.
· The magistrate shall inform the person arrested of his right to request appointment of counsel if the person cannot afford counsel.
· The magistrate shall inform the person arrested of the procedures for requesting appointment of counsel.
· If the arrested person does not speak and understand the English language or is deaf, the magistrate shall inform the person through the use of an interpreter consistent with Article 38.30 or Article 38.31 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
· The magistrate shall ensure that reasonable assistance in completing the necessary forms for requesting appointment of counsel is provided to the person.
· The magistrate without unnecessary delay, but not later than 24 hours after the person arrested requests appointment of counsel, transmit, or cause to be transmitted, to the court or the court’s designee authorized to appoint counsel, the forms requesting appointment of counsel.
· The magistrate shall inform the arrested person that he is not required to make any statement and that any statement made by him may be used against him.
· The magistrate shall allow the arrested person reasonable time and opportunity to consult counsel, and shall, after determining whether the person is currently on bail for a separate criminal offense, admit the person to bail if allowed by law.
· A record shall be made of the magistrate informing the arrested person of the person’s right to request appointment of counsel; the magistrate asking the person whether the person wants to request appointment of counsel; and whether the person requested appointment of counsel. The record may consist of written forms or electronic recordings.
1.3 Every Dallas County arresting agency shall comply with the requirements of the Order of the judges of the criminal district courts and district courts giving preference to criminal cases regarding detention of persons without charges filed. Any person who has not had charges filed within the time periods required by said Order shall be released in accordance with said Order.
1.4 A person arrested without a warrant for a misdemeanor who is detained in jail must be released on bond in an amount not to exceed $5,000 not later than the 24th hour after the person’s arrest if a magistrate has not determined whether probable cause to believe the person committed the offense. A person arrested without a warrant for a felony who is detained in jail must be released on bond not to exceed $10,000 not later than the 48th hour after the person’s arrest if a magistrate has not determined whether probable cause exists to believe the person committed the offense. If the person is unable to obtain a surety bond or unable to deposit money in the amount of the bond, the person must be released on personal bond. A magistrate may postpone the release of such persons for not more than 72 hours after the person’s arrest upon the filing of an application by the state’s attorney.
1.5 If a person is arrested on an out-of–county warrant, the magistrate shall ask if the person wants to request that counsel be appointed, inform the person of the procedures for requesting counsel, and ensure that the person is provided reasonable assistance in completing the necessary forms for requesting counsel in the county that issued the warrant.
1.6 If a person arrested on an out-of-county warrant requests counsel, the magistrate shall transmit, or cause to be transmitted, the request to a court or the appointing authority of the county issuing the warrant within 24 hours of the request being made.
1.7 The magistrate shall provide forms for requesting appointment of counsel to the arrested person upon request at the time of the Article 15.17 arraignment. Completed forms may be returned to the magistrate who shall forward the request for appointment of counsel to the assigned court or to the out-of-county appointing authority as appropriate. Persons who have been released on bond and have not previously requested counsel may obtain forms to request counsel from the court coordinator of the court the person’s case has been assigned to. The completed forms may then be returned to the court coordinator.
Indigence Determination Standards
Determination of Indigence
2.1 The court or its designee must evaluate each request for a court appointed attorney to determine whether the defendant is indigent. The court or its designee may not consider whether the defendant has posted or is capable of posting bail, except to the extent that it reflects the defendant’s financial circumstances as measured by the following factors: (a) the defendant’s income; (b) the source of the defendant’s income; (c) the assets and property owned by the defendant; (d) the defendant’s outstanding obligations and necessary expenses; (e) the number and age of the defendant’s dependents, and (f) income of the defendant’s spouse that is available to the defendant. The defendant will fill out a form addressing the above factors and if the court or its designee finds the defendant is indigent the form will be filed in the court file.
2.2 A person earning 150% or less of the federal HHS poverty guidelines is considered indigent for the purpose of appointment of counsel.
Minimum Attorney Qualifications
Minimum Attorney Qualifications
3.1 Attorneys requesting court appointments must submit an application on the approved application form to the district court judges. A majority of the judges - 9 criminal district court judges - must screen applicants who meet the objective qualifications and approve those attorneys whom they consider competent to handle cases corresponding to an appropriate level.
3.2 An attorney must reside in Dallas County or have his or her principal office in Dallas County in order to qualify for placement on the master list. Attorneys approved for placement on the master list prior to December 1, 2009, are grandfathered and are not required to meet the residency or office location requirement.
3.3 The master list will be multi-level, with four trial levels: 1st degree and non-death penalty capital cases, 2nd degree, 3rd degree, and state jail and probation revocations. Under each level there will be a sub-level for multi-lingual lawyers.
3.4 Attorneys on the master list at a certain level may petition to advance to a higher level by submitting a new application. A majority of the district judges must vote to approve the change.
3.5 An attorney who does not receive sufficient votes to be placed on any level of the master list may re-apply in 90 days.
3.6 Separate lists will be maintained for appeals and writ appointments. Attorneys must submit the appropriate application. A majority of the judges - 9 criminal district court judges - must screen applicants who meet the objective qualifications and approve those attorneys whom they consider competent to handle appeals and/or writs.
3.7 Requirements for attorneys qualifying at each level of the trial wheel will increase as the possible consequences to the defendant become more serious. Minimum requirements for trial and probation revocations are as follows:
State Jail and Probation Revocations – Licensed for 2 years and at least 6 points on the application form;
Third Degree – Licensed for 3 years and at least 12 points on the application form;
Second Degree – Licensed for 4 years and at least 18 points on the application form;
First Degree and Non-Death Penalty Capital Murder – Licensed for 5 years and at least 25 points on the application form.
Minimum Requirements for the appellate wheel are as follows:
(1) The applicant must have authored a minimum of eight state court appellate briefs within the two year period prior to the date of application;
(2) The applicant must have a minimum of twelve (12) hours of CLE pertaining to state criminal law or state criminal appellate law within the two year period prior to the date of application;
(3) The applicant must submit copies of two complete state court appellate briefs in criminal cases (excluding Anders briefs) authored by the applicant and submitted to an appellate court within the five year period prior to the date of application; and
(4) The applicant must list five appellate court judges or justices with knowledge of the applicant's abilities.
3.8 Unusual or exceptional experience demonstrating substantial involvement in criminal law may be substituted for trial or appellate experience on the application form. If claiming this exception, the attorney must provide a detailed explanation of the attorney’s experience as an attachment to the application.
3.9 An attorney qualified for appointment to any felony level will automatically be qualified for all the levels below. Thus, a lawyer on the highest level will be on the felony levels below and his/her name will come up in rotation on each level independently of all other levels and will not result in a forfeiture of position on any other level.
3.10 Lawyers will be randomly, not alphabetically, listed on each level of the wheel. Names on the initial wheel will be shuffled. Thereafter, additional names will be randomly inserted at each level of the wheel.
3.11 A lawyer who is appointed from the wheel must either personally represent the client or withdraw. Cases will not be transferable or tradable.
3.12 Any attorney notified of an appointment who does not respond to the notifying court by 9:45 a.m. the following morning, will be removed from that appointment and his/her name will go back on the bottom of the list for appointments in the future. Repeated failures to respond may be grounds for removal from the master list.
3.13 Appointed counsel is to remain on the case until taken off by the Court. A lawyer who withdraws from a case will lose the appointment and will not be restored to his/her former place in the rotation.
3.14 All attorneys on the master list must notify the Court Manager for the Criminal District Courts of any change of address or contact information. Failure to maintain accurate contact information with the Court Manager’s Office may result in automatic removal from the appointment list.
3.15 To remain eligible for appointment an attorney must:
(i) complete a minimum of twelve hours of continuing legal education pertaining to criminal law during each 12 month reporting period; or
(ii) attend all sessions of either the State Bar Advanced Criminal Law Course or the TCDLA Advanced Criminal Law Short Course once every two years; or
(iii) be currently certified in criminal law or criminal appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; or
(iv) complete the applicable judicial continuing education hours.
3.16 Continuing legal education may include teaching at an accredited CLE activity, or other CLE activities accredited under Section 4 Article XII, of the State Bar Rules, which may include online courses and credit for teaching or publishing criminal law materials.
3.17 Self-study hours may not be included in meeting the required CLE hours.
3.18 CLE hours completed during any reporting period in excess of the minimum required hours may be applied to the following reporting period’s requirement. CLE hours may only be carried over for one year. CLE hours may only be applied to one reporting period.
3.19 The reporting period shall be from January 1st to December 31st of each year. Each attorney must provide proof that the attorney has met the CLE requirements during the reporting period by reporting their CLE hours each January on the form approved by the judges of the criminal district courts and the district courts giving preference to criminal cases. The CLE compliance report must be sworn to by the attorney.
3.20 The CLE compliance report form shall be turned in to the Criminal District Court Manager during the month of January following each reporting period and must be received by the Criminal District Court Manager no later than January 31st of each year.
3.21 An attorney who fails to comply with the CLE requirements or fails to submit a sworn CLE compliance form each January will be automatically removed from the master list.
3.22 An attorney may be removed from the master list or moved to a lower level of the wheel for reasons other than failure to comply with the CLE requirements by a majority vote (9 judges) of the district judges.
3.23 Any judge, for good cause, may raise an issue regarding representation by an attorney or attorney misconduct at a monthly judges meeting. Specific and timely allegations must form the basis of the complaint.
3.24 Upon motion of one district judge, after being seconded by another district judge, an attorney may be summoned before the district judges during a regularly scheduled judges meeting to explain his/her handling of a case or cases. The attorney is not entitled to the representation of counsel at the meeting. Failure to appear without good cause will be considered against the attorney. An attorney who appears before the judges is subject to questioning by the Judges.
3.25 If an attorney’s presence is required, notice of the specific allegations of misconduct or issue must be sent to the investigated attorney in writing no less than two weeks prior to a requested appearance before the judges. A majority (9 judges) of the district judges will determine whether good cause exists for removal or sanctions.
3.26 Sanctions may consist of any of the following:
a. written reprimand signed by the Presiding Judge;
b. demotion to a lower level of the wheel;
c. temporary suspension from the appointment wheel;
d. removal from the appointment wheel;
e. obtaining additional CLE hours; or
f. working with a mentor.
3.27 An attorney shall automatically be removed from the felony appointment lists for following reasons:
a. conviction or deferred adjudication for any felony offense;
b. conviction or deferred adjudication for any crime of moral turpitude;
c. being under indictment or formally charged with a felony or crime of moral turpitude;
d. failure to meet the general qualifications for appointment; or
e. any suspension from the practice of law by the State Bar except for administrative suspensions for failure to pay fees or dues and failure to comply with CLE requirements. (See section 7.9 below regarding temporary suspensions).
3.28 An attorney may be removed from the felony appointment lists for the following reasons:
a. failing to perform the attorney’s duty owed the defendant;
b. failing to maintain compliance with each of the felony appointment guidelines;
c. finding by a court that the attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel;
d. intentional misrepresentation on the application for court appointments or on the request for compensation or the annual re-certification; or
e. any other good cause at the discretion of the judges of the criminal district courts and district courts trying criminal cases.
3.29 An attorney shall be temporarily removed from the appointment lists for the following reasons:
a. any suspension from the practice of law by the State Bar for failure to comply with CLE requirements or failure to pay dues or fees.
The attorney will be placed back on the appointment list upon providing proof of reinstatement from the State Bar.
3.30 The court coordinators for the district courts shall keep a list of attorneys who do not appear for an initial appointment or who habitually fail to reset cases. This list will be taken into consideration should an attorney’s qualifications be under review by the district judges. Failure to reset cases may be grounds for appointing new counsel on an individual, case by case, basis.
3.31 An attorney who has been removed from any master list by a majority vote of the judges for reasons other than failure to comply with the CLE requirements may reapply after one year (12 months). An attorney who has been demoted may reapply after one year (12 months).
3.32 An attorney who has been automatically removed from any list for failure to comply with the CLE requirements will be reinstated to the master list at the attorney’s previous level upon providing proof of completion of the required CLE.
3.33 An attorney who has been removed from a master list at the attorney’s request may be reinstated to the master list upon request and proof that that the CLE requirements have been met.
3.34 An attorney who has been removed from a master list by request or for failure to provide proof of CLE who is not reinstated within one year must re-apply for placement on the list.
3.35 All attorneys on the approved appellate list prior to September 1, 2011, who desire to continue receiving appellate appointments must re-apply using the revised appellate application form. Applicants must submit new applications no later than December 1, 2011, and must meet the revised qualifications to remain on the approved list for appellate appointments. Attorneys who do not re-apply shall be automatically removed from the appellate appointment wheel.
3.36 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.
Prompt Appointment of Counsel
Prompt Appointment of Counsel
4.1 When an eligible defendant requests appointment of trial counsel and submits the required documents, the request and any required documentation shall be transmitted to the court within 24 hours of the request for appointment of counsel being made.
4.2 Counsel shall be appointed for eligible defendants within one working day of the court’s receipt of a request for appointed counsel.
4.3 Counsel shall be appointed for eligible defendants who are not in custody at the defendant’s first court appearance or when adversarial
proceedings are initiated, whichever comes first.
4.4 In any adversarial judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement, the court shall not direct or encourage the defendant to
communicate with the attorney for the state until the court advises the defendant of the right to counsel and the procedures for requesting appointment of counsel, and the defendant has been given a reasonable opportunity to request appointed counsel.
4.5 Requests for appointment of counsel from persons arrested in a county other than Dallas County on a Dallas County warrant shall be forwarded to the Criminal District Court Manager’s Office who shall then forward the request to the assigned court for a ruling on the request. The ruling and, if appropriate, the appointment of counsel shall be made within one working day of receipt of the request for appointment of counsel.
4.6 If a person who has been arrested on an out-of-county warrant is entitled to and requests appointment of counsel, and the person has not been transferred or released into the custody of the county issuing the warrant before the 11th day after the date of arrest, and the person has not been appointed counsel, the magistrate shall appoint counsel for the purpose of writ matters under Chapter 11 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or bond matters under Chapter 17 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The jail population coordinator for Dallas County shall notify the magistrate if a person arrested on an out-of-county warrant has not been transferred or released into the custody of the county issuing the warrant within the eleven day period following the arrest.
4.7 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/ or from The Criminal District Courts Manager's Office located on the 2nd Floor of the Frank Crowley Courts Building. The defendant may submit these forms to The Criminal District Courts Manager's Office located on the 2nd Floor of the Frank Crowley Courts Building. The court will rule on all requests for counsel submitted in this manner.
Attorney Selection Process
Attorney Selection Process
5.1 A master list of qualified attorneys will be maintained by the Criminal District Court Manager’s Office.
5.2 Daily access to that list will be limited to appointing courts and their designees. Those accessing the list will not be able to preview the order of the
attorneys as they appear on the list. The court or its designee may draw as many names from the list, in the order that they appear at the required level, as
there are appointments to be made that day. The court or its designee shall appoint the next attorney in the rotation unless the court makes a finding of
good cause on the record for appointing an attorney out of order. The skipped attorney will remain at the top of that level of the list from which the
appointment was made.
5.3 A court or its designee may appoint from the master list or the Public Defender’s Office.
5.4 An attorney cannot be appointed on a case at a level higher than that for which the attorney has been qualified by a vote of the judges.
5.5 When a defendant has two or more cases one attorney will be appointed to all cases and will be appointed from the level of the greater offense.
5.6 An attorney will be appointed only after a case is pre-assigned to a court.
5.7 Defendants who speak only a foreign language will be matched to an attorney qualified to speak that language if available. Those attorneys will also be on the non-multi-lingual part of each level of the trial wheel and their names will come up on both parts, but an appointment as a multi-lingual speaker from any level of the wheel will result in forfeiture of position for appointment on the other part at the same level.
5.8 When a defendant is subsequently charged with a higher grade of offense, the court may appoint new counsel from the list.
5.9 Felonies with enhancement paragraphs may, in the discretion of the court, be classified for purposes of appointment at the level of the underlying offense or at the level of the potential maximum punishment.
5.10 The wheel system set forth in this plan applies to trials, probation revocations, and appeals, but is not applicable to writs.
5.11 Attorneys appointed to handle probation revocations must meet the qualifications set forth for court appointments to state jail felony cases. When appointing counsel to a probation revocation the court may continue the attorney who was counsel for the defendant at the defendant's trial or plea on the case, or may appoint new counsel using the trial appointment wheel or the public defender's office.
5.12 Attorneys appointed to writs must be on the list of attorneys approved for writ appointments. Attorneys desiring to be on the writ list must submit the approved application form and be approved by a majority of the judges.
5.13 This plan does not apply to death penalty cases.
5.14 A court may appoint any available, qualified attorney to advise a witness when the law requires representation.
5.15 Before withdrawing as counsel for the defendant after a trial or plea of guilty, if the defendant is not represented by other counsel, counsel shall advise the defendant of the defendant's right to file a motion for new trial and a notice of appeal. If the defendant wishes to pursue a new trial or an appeal, counsel shall assist the defendant in requesting the prompt appointment of replacement counsel. If replacement counsel is not appointed promptly, counsel shall assist the defendant in filing a timely motion for new trial or notice of appeal if the defendant desires to pursue one or both of those remedies.
Fee and Expense Payment Process
Fee and Expense Payment
6.1 Appointed attorneys shall be compensated in accordance with the fee schedule approved by the judges of the criminal district courts and the district courts giving preference to criminal cases.
6.2 Attorneys must submit documentation on the approved forms as required by the fee schedule. Failure to submit proper documentation may result in a delay in receiving payment or in a failure to receive full payment.
6.3 When an attorney has been appointed and the defendant subsequently retains counsel, the appointed attorney shall be compensated for any work performed prior to the substitution of retained counsel.
6.4 The county auditor will not pay any attorney who is not on the approved list at the time of appointment.
6.5 If the judge disapproves the requested amount of payment, the judge shall make written findings stating the amount of payment the judge approves and each reason for approving an amount different from the requested amount. If an attorney is not satisfied with the amount of compensation approved by the judge, the attorney may appeal the judge’s decision by filing a motion with the Presiding Judge of the First Administrative Judicial Region, Judge Mary Murphy located on the 5th floor of the Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building.
6.6 Expenses incurred without prior court approval shall be reimbursed if the expenses are reasonably necessary and reasonably incurred. An attorney should obtain prior court approval for any expenses exceeding $750.00.
Amendment of Plan
7.1 Amendments to this Plan and the Fee Schedule require a two-thirds vote of the judges of the criminal district courts and the district courts giving
preference to criminal cases of Dallas County.
Dallas District Court Affidavit of Indigence.pdf (11/23/2009 1:26:54 PM) view
Dallas District Court Attorney Application for Appeals Appointment.pdf (10/24/2011 3:48:34 PM) view
Dallas District Court Attorney Application for Appointment.doc (2/20/2018 1:48:24 PM) view
Dallas District Court Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (6/22/2015 8:42:19 AM) view
Dallas District Court Attorney Fee Voucher.pdf (11/23/2009 1:51:29 PM) view
Dallas District Court Magistrates Warning Form.pdf (11/23/2009 1:19:43 PM) view
Dallas District Court Waiver of Counsel.pdf (11/23/2009 3:22:25 PM) view