Harrison Juvenile Board Plan

The Harrison County Juvenile Services Board adopts the procedures herein with the intent to provide for an appointment list of attorneys using a system of rotation to insure that indigent accused juveniles receive timely and competent representation and that appointments are allocated in a manner that is fair, neutral and nondiscriminatory.


The Qualified Attorney list will be approved by the Juvenile Board, hereinafter referred to as “The Board.”  The list will be posted on the county web site and made available in the offices of the County Court at Law Judge.


Application for inclusion/re-certification on the list may be filed with the County Court at Law for Harrison County.  The applications will be considered within 30 days and ruled upon within 45 days, unless for good cause the time period for ruling must be lengthened.

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

In determining whether the accused is indigent, the judge will consider the income of juvenile and parents from all sources, their assets, property in which they own an interest, outstanding obligations and reasonably necessary expenses, number and age of legal dependants, and income of other persons living in the home.  Resources of friends and relatives will not be considered except insofar as the friends or relatives live with or otherwise help defray the household or other expenses of the accused. The accused shall be determined to be indigent if his resources do not excede 125%of the poverty guidelines.


If after consideration of the Statement the Judge or designee determines that the accused is entitled to appointment of counsel, the court shall appoint an attorney from the next five names on the appropriate Qualified Appointment List in the order in which the attorney’s names appear on the list, unless the Judge or designee makes a finding of good cause on the record for the appointing of an attorney out of order.  An attorney who is not appointed in the order in which the attorney’s name appears on the list shall remain next in order on the list.


If after consideration of the Statement, the Judge or designee determines that the accused does not have funds to immediately retain counsel, but does have the funds to offset, on part or in whole, the costs of legal services, then the Court may order that the juvenile and parents make monthly payments to the Juvenile Probation Office of Harrison County.

Minimum Attorney Qualifications



1.         Eligibility.  The attorney shall be familiar with the practice and procedure of the criminal courts of Texas and shall be a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas.  Practice before a juvenile court shall be considered as experience in criminal litigation for purpose of these standards.  Pro bono service of counsel shall also be considered as experience for purpose of these standards.  The attorney shall have their residency or primary office location in Harrison County, except for counsel who restrict their appointments to appeals. Attorneys must be approved by a majority of the Juvenile Board or judges to be placed on or removed from the appointment list. [Sec. 51.102(a), FC & Art. 26.04, CCP]


2.         Compliance with Ethical Standards.  All attorneys shall comply with the Canons of Ethics and with the Lawyer’s Creed and shall require that all investigators, experts and others working for or under the direction of the attorney shall also comply with all appropriate ethical standards.


3.         Evidentiary Matters.  The attorney shall be familiar with the Texas Rules of Evidence and shall have knowledge of the use of expert witnesses and evidence, including, but not limited to, psychiatric and forensic evidence.


4.         Co-counsel.  If the Court appoints co-counsel for any offense, it shall be at the discretion of the Court as to the qualification of counsel.


5.         Continuing Education.  To maintain annual certification, successful completion of a minimum of eight (8) hours of training in State Bar of Texas approved training in juvenile law, evidence or trial practice.  This is an annual calendar year requirement with reporting each January by the presentation of a re-certification affidavit presented prior to January 31 of each year.  A failure to present the affidavit shall cause an attorney to be subject to removal from the lists of attorneys eligible for appointment.


6.         Re-Certification.  An attorney shall file a new application between January 1 and January 31 of each year to remain on the list(s).


7.         Removal from List.  A judge may remove an attorney from consideration for appointments if the attorney intentionally or repeatedly does not fulfill the duties required by law, Attorney’s Creed, Canons, local rules or the provisions of this plan.  An attorney removed from the list(s) will be given notice and the reasons for the removal.




The Harrison County Juvenile Services Board hereby establishes the following qualification standards for attorneys for three levels of conduct [Sec. 51.102 (a), (b)(2), FC] as follows:          


1.         Determinate Sentence or Discretionary Transfer to Criminal Court Proceedings Have Been Initiated.  An attorney must meet the following criteria:


            (A)       Have a license to practice law in the  State of Texas and have 1 year experience in criminal litigation; and


            (B)       Have completed at least twelve (12) hours of continuing legal education in criminal law, evidence or trial tactics.


2.         Delinquent Conduct (TJJD possible).  An attorney must meet the following criteria:


            (A)       Have a license to practice law in the State of Texas and have at least six (6) months of experience in criminal litigation; and


            (B)       Have completed at least twelve (12) hours of legal education in criminal law, evidence, or trial tactics within six (6) months of application.


3.         Conduct Indicating a Need for Supervision or Delinquent Conduct (no TJJD possible).  An attorney must meet the following criteria:


            (A)       Have a license to practice law in the State of Texas and have at least six (6) months of experience in criminal litigation; and


            (B)       Have completed at least twelve (12) hours of legal education in criminal law, evidence or trial tactcs within six (6) months of application. 



Effect of Criminal Law Specialization


An attorney who has received his or her specialization in criminal law is qualified to serve on any capital felony where the State is not seeking the death penalty and for all other grades of felony and misdemeanor offenses.  The attorney who possesses criminal law specialization shall also be exempt from the CLE requirements set out in Section III.




Court appointed counsel shall make every reasonable effort to contact the juvenile/client not later than the end of the first working day after appointment and to interview the juvenile/client in person within three (3) days of the appointment.


Court appointed counsel shall be available to receive communications by telephone, answering service, pager, or voice mail from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on workdays.  Counsel will also maintain a FAX for receiving notices, motions, appointments, etc. from the Court 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Difficulty communicating with counsel by court or court staff or clients will be considered as grounds for removing the counsel from the approved list.


Counsel shall comply and insure that investigators and experts employed by counsel shall comply with all laws, rules, procedures and ethical provisions for providing reasonable assistance to counsel, including the Lawyer’s Creed.


 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 to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission through the online form prescribed by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.

Prompt Appointment of Counsel

If adversarial proceedings have been initiated against the accused, Counsel shall be appointed within a reasaonable time before the first detention hearing is held unless the Court finds that the appointment of counsel is not feasible due to exigent circumstances.

If an attorney is appointed to represent the child at the initial detention hearing and the child is detained, the attorney shall continue to represent the child until the case is terminated, the family retains an attorney, or a new attorney is appointed by the Juvenile Court.  Release of the child from detention does not terminate the attorney's representation. 

If the child was not represented by an attorney at the detention hearing and determination was made to detain the child, the child shall immediately be entitled to representation by an attorney.  If not detained, an attorney must be appointed on or before the 5th working day after the date the petition for adjudication, motion to modify, or discretionary transfer hearing was served.

The Judge shall fax or e-mail to the appointed attorney a copy of the Statement and appointment before the end of the business day on which the attorney was appointed.

Attorney Selection Process

The County Court at Law Judge will appoint attorneys for indigents pursuant to this Plan on a rotation system.  The Courts’ Court Coordinator and Office Administrator are designated as persons authorized to appoint attorneys from the Lists under the supervision of the Judge.

Fee and Expense Payment Process



The following schedule is adopted with the intent to provide for reasonable compensation to court appointed counsel for time spent performing the reasonable and necessary services in representing the client, and with the intent to take into consideration the time and labor required, complexity of the case, experience and ability of the appointed counsel, and the reasonable and necessary overhead costs of the attorneys.  Based on the foregoing considerations, the judges find the following fees to be presumptively reasonable:


            Attorney’s first detention hearing                             $300

            Subsequent detention hearing                                $100

            Waiver of subsequent detention hearing                     $  50

            Adjudication                                                   $600

            Modification                                                    $400


Counsel may petition the Court for hourly fees of not less than $50.00 per hour nor more than $100.00 per hour depending on the grade of the offense, nature and complexity of the case, and the penalty sought.

No payment shall be made until the Court approves payment after submission of a fee voucher.


If the judge disapproves the requested amount of payment, the judge shall make written findings stating the amount that the judge approves and each reason for approving an amount different from the requested amount.




The juvenile has the right to the proper investigation of the case and for the appointment of expert witnesses when necessary for the defense of the case.  Investigation expenses will be compensated at $25 to $40 per hour in the discretion of the Court and considering the nature of the offense and the nature of the services provided.  Travel time from the investigator’s office to the courthouse, jail and lawyer’s office is not compensated.  Mental health, ballistics, forensics, fingerprint, and DNA experts necessary for the defense of the accused shall be compensated based on the usual and normal charges for such experts in the Administrative Judicial District.


Counsel shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses, including expenses for investigation and for mental health experts and other experts.  Expenses incurred shall be as provided in Art. 26.052(f), (g), and (h) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.


Expenses incurred without prior approval shall be reimbursed if expenses are reasonably necessary and reasonably incurred.

Incurring frivolous, unnecessary or improper investigation expenses could result in the removal of the attorney from the list of qualified attorneys.





Each attorney shall submit a request for payment:


1.         On the date of the detention hearing, disposition of the case by a plea or bench trial; or


2.         Within 15 days of the date of the verdict in a jury trial; or


3.         Within 15 days of the date the mandate being returned in an appeal.


Bills for indigent attorney fees or expenses not timely filed as above will be considered waived, the services being performed pro bono, and said request shall not later be paid.


Requests for amounts greater than the presumptively reasonable amounts set forth above shall be verified and include a detailed statement of the nature of the services performed, the date of such performance, and the actual time spent on each such date and performing each such service.


If the request is disapproved, the attorney may, as provided by law, file a written appeal to the presiding judge of the Administrative Region.





Ultimately, fees incurred are also dependent in great measure on the prosecution’s prompt and efficient preparation and trial of the cases.  Attorney fees and investigation expenses can be mitigated greatly by the prompt decision as to charges brought and penalties sought, and especially by the prompt trial of cases.


Cases will not be delayed because charges in other courts or federal jurisdiction are pending.  The State shall bench defendants for prompt trial of their cases wherever and to whatever content possible.


The Courts shall continue to give priority settings to juvenile cases.




The Harrison County Juvenile Board retain authority by majority vote to waive any portion of this plan in exceptionally justified cases or when determined necessary for the fair and impartial administration of justice.


Plan Documents
Harrison Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Schedule.docx (9/16/2010 2:14:08 PM) view
Harrison Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Voucher.doc (8/31/2010 2:21:40 PM) view