Galveston Juvenile Board Plan
Preamble
10/24/2013

As required by the Texas Fair Defense Act and Section 51.101 of the Texas Juvenile Justice Code, the Juvenile Board of Galveston County, Texas with the consent of the Galveston County Commissioner's Court approves the following plan for the qualifications of and appointment of attorneys to represent indigent juveniles.

The Juvenile Board of Galveston County, Texas members are:  the County Judge, County Court at Law Judges, District Judges, one municipal court judge, and one justice of the peace.  The Board elects a Chairperson who is responsible for the administrative duties of the Board.  The Board may impose policies, procedures and guidelines to implement this plan and guarantee effective representation to juveniles whose families may be indigent. 

Prompt Detention Hearings
10/30/2015

Prompt Detention Hearings

 

A child is to be brought before the juvenile referee within 24 hours of detention, excluding weekends and holidays.  The juvenile referee is available on weekends and holidays by phone or electronic means to make a probable cause finding and the child is brought before the juvenile referee on the first working day, but not later than 48 hours from time of detention, excluding weekends and holidays.

 

Prior to detention hearing, court must inform parents of child's right to appointed counsel if they are indigent.

Indigence Determination Standards
10/30/2015

PROCEDURES AND FINANCIAL STANDARDS

FOR DETERMINING INDIGENCE STATUS

 

At the initial detention hearing each accused shall be provided an opportunity to request court appointed counsel, if indigent.  Each requesting juvenile respondent’s parent/guardian/custodian shall complete a sworn affidavit of indigency form {Form # GC-5}.  The juvenile referee will insure that reasonable assistance is available in completing the necessary forms for requesting appointment of counsel.

 

The juvenile referee shall then review the information and follow the procedures for determining whether a respondent is indigent, as follows:

           

1. Definitions. As used in this rule:

 

(a) “Net household income,” means all income of the respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/custodian/guardian income actually available to the respondent. 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 respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/custodian/guardian has no income or lesser income.

 

b) “Non-exempt assets and property,” means cash in hand, stocks and bonds, accounts at financial institutions, and equity in real or personal property that can be readily converted to cash, other than assets and property exempt from attachment under state law.

 

(c) ”Household.” means all individuals who are actually dependent on the respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/custodian/guardian and for which the respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/custodian/guardian has legal responsibility for financial support.

 

(d) “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.

 

2. Financial Standards for Determining Indigence. The financial standards set forth below shall be used to determine whether a respondent is indigent and shall be applied equally to each respondent in the county.

 

(a)    A respondent is considered indigent if:

 

(1)   The respondent’s net household income does not

exceed 150% of the Poverty Guidelines as established and revised annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and published in the Federal Register; and

 

            (2) the value of the non-exempt assets and property owned by

The juvenile respondent/respondent’s parent/guardian/custodian

 

(i) does not exceed $2,500.00;

 

(ii) does not exceed $5,000.00 in the case of a

respondent whose household includes a person who is age 60 or over, disabled, or institutionalized; or

 

(iii) does not exceed double the estimated cost of obtaining competent private legal representation on the offense(s) with which the respondent is charged.

 

 

(b) A respondent is considered indigent if, at the time of requesting appointed counsel, the respondent or the respondent’s dependents have been determined to be eligible to receive food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, or public housing.

 

(c) A respondent is considered indigent if the respondent:

 

(1)   is currently serving a sentence in a correctional institution, is currently held in custody, is currently residing in a public mental health facility, or is the subject of a proceeding in which admission or commitment to such a mental health facility is sought; and

 

(2)   has no non-exempt assets or property in excess of the amounts specified in paragraph 2.

 

(d) A respondent who does not meet any of the financial standards above shall nevertheless be determined indigent if the respondent is otherwise unable to retain private counsel without substantial hardship to the respondent or the respondent’s dependents, taking into account the nature of the criminal charge(s), the anticipated complexity of the defense, the estimated cost of obtaining competent private legal representation for the matter charged, and the amount needed for the support of the respondent and the respondent’s dependents.

 

3.  Appointing Counsel for Partially Indigent respondents

 

(a) A respondent determined to be partially indigent shall be eligible for appointment of counsel only upon payment to the county of an appointment fee of $100 if charged with one or more misdemeanors or $200 if charged with one or more felonies. If a respondent determined to be partially indigent pleads or is found guilty, the court may order the respondent to comply with a payment schedule to reimburse the county for all indigent defense costs in the case.

 

(b) A respondent shall be considered partially indigent if the respondent does not meet any of the standards for indigence set forth in paragraph 2 and:

 

(1)   The respondent’s net household income is greater than 150% but does not exceed 175% of the Poverty Guidelines as established and revised annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and published in the Federal Register; and

 

(2)   The value of the non-exempt assets and property owned by the 

                         respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/guardian/custodian:

 

(i)                 Does not exceed $2,500.00;

 

(ii)               Does not exceed $5,000.00 in the case of a

respondent whose household includes a person who is age 60 or over, disabled, or institutionalized; or

 

(iii) Does not exceed double the estimated cost of obtaining private legal representation on the offense(s) with which the respondent is charged.

 

 

4. Factors Not to be Considered.

 

(a) A respondent’s posting of bail or ability to post bail may not be considered in determining whether the respondent is indigent or partially indigent. Even when a  respondent has posted bail, the respondent’s financial circumstances are measured by the financial standards stated in this rule.

 

(b) The resources available to friends or relatives of the respondent may not be considered in determining whether the respondent is indigent. Only the respondent’s financial circumstances as measured by the financial standards stated in this rule shall be used as the basis for determining indigence.

 

5. Procedures for Determining Indigence.

 

(a) As soon as possible following the juvenile being taken into custody and in any event not later than the Article 15.17 TFC Sec 54.01 detention hearing, the magistrate/juvenile referee shall provide each juvenile respondent who wants to request appointment of counsel with a form approved by the judges on which the juvenile respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/guardian/custodian will provide under oath the necessary information concerning the  their financial resources and will indicate that the person requests appointment of counsel. The magistrate/juvenile referee shall ensure the juvenile respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/guardian/custodian has reasonable assistance in completing the form.

 

(b)   The form requesting appointment of counsel and containing the information concerning the juvenile respondent’s financial resources will be reviewed by the magistrate/juvenile referee and a determination made pursuant to the guidelines set out herein and notice provided to the juvenile/juvenile respondent’s parent(s)/guardian/custodian as to the name, address and phone number of the attorney being appointed, if applicable or of the need to retain counsel.  (Note: If a juvenile respondent is to be detained during the period of time non-qualifying parents are seeking an attorney, the juvenile respondent shall be provided a court appointed attorney for the purposes of detention only.  A juvenile respondent shall not be held in detention without access to an attorney regardless of financial status.)

 

(c)    The appointing judge or person(s) designated by the judges to appoint counsel will determine whether the person meets the financial standards for indigence in paragraph 2. The determination will be recorded on the form requesting appointment of counsel and the form will be filed with the other orders in the case.

 

(d) The juvenile respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/guardian/custodian may be required by the magistrate, juvenile referee, the appointing judge, or the judge presiding over the case to respond to examination regarding the person’s financial resources.

 

(e) A written or oral statement elicited under this article or evidence derived from the statement may not be used for any purpose, except to determine the respondent’s indigence or to impeach the direct testimony of the respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/guardian/custodian regarding the respondent’s indigence.

 

(f) A respondent determined to be indigent is presumed to remain indigent for the remainder of the case unless a material change in the respondent’s financial circumstances occurs.

 

(g) A respondent’s status as indigent or not indigent may be reviewed in a formal hearing at any stage of a court proceeding based on evidence of a material change in the respondent’s financial circumstances. A respondent’s status as indigent or not indigent also may be reviewed in a formal hearing at any stage of a court proceeding based on additional information regarding financial circumstances, subject to the presumption. If a respondent previously determined to be indigent subsequently is determined not to be indigent, the attorney shall be compensated by the county in accordance with these Rules for time reasonably expended on the case.

 

6.  Payment by respondent.

 

A court that finds that a juvenile respondent has financial resources to offset, in part or in whole, the costs of legal services provided under this Part may order the respondent/respondent’s parent(s)/guardian/custodian to pay the county that portion of the costs of legal services provided that it finds on the record that the respondent is able to pay.

 

Upon a determination of indigence, the magistrate/juvenile referee shall sign the form indicating the accused is indigent and shall immediately appoint an attorney pursuant to the approved attorney appointment list plan, or if the magistrate/juvenile referee is not authorized to appoint counsel, then transmit or cause to be delivered immediately to the Communications Coordinator the request for appointment of lawyer form, finding of probable cause form, indigence application form, including finding of indigence.  The Communications Coordinator shall deliver the received information to the assigned misdemeanor or felony Judge no later than the next working day.


 

Minimum Attorney Qualifications
10/30/2015

 

 

QUALIFICATIONS FOR APPOINTMENT

 

A. Basic Requirements for All Attorneys:

     1.  Qualified member of State Bar of Texas;

     2.  A person of good moral character;

     3.  An attorney must either have a residence in Galveston County, or have an office in Galveston County;

     4.  An attorney must have a secretary, receptionist, local area code answering service, or a local area code-regularly monitored answering machine;

     5.  An attorney must have a functioning fax machine and email address, both available 24 hours a day and monitored on a daily basis, and;

     6.  An attorney must complete a minimum of ten (10) hours certified C.L.E. credits annually, of which six (06) hours must be in juvenile law;

     6.  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 and juvenile delinquency cases for the prior 12 months that begins on October 1 and ends 

          September 30.  The report must be submitted through the online form to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission/form prescribed by the Texas Indigent  

          Defense Commission to the court administration office in the county. 

      

*an "office" is the commerical location where the attorney conducts law practice.  "office" does not include a post office box address or public building, such as a library, restaurant or other public place.

  

In addition, all attorneys licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Texas at least one year prior to this application are eligible to apply for appointment as attorney in a juvenile case. The Communications Co­ordinator shall provide an application form for all applicants who wish to take juvenile appointments. The form completed by the attorney will state the number of years in practice, the number of felony jury trials, misdemeanor jury trials, felony bench trials, misdemeanor bench trials, and specify if such trials were for adults or juveniles. If otherwise qualified, the attorney is required to attend Juvenile detention docket on two (2) separate occasions, and take a guided tour of the Galveston County Juvenile detention facility, prior to being placed on the qualification list Based upon the application, the Communications Coordinator shall place the attorney on the appropriate Graduated List considering experience and qualification list. The Communications Coordinator will notify the attorney with the contact information for the tour and observation. The application form shall advise the applicant that to remain on the appointment list after January 1st of each year, the applicant must demonstrate that 16 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) has been obtained, with 10 hours being in criminal law and 6 hours in juvenile law, for the initial application period, then 10 hours of criminal law with 6 of those hours being juvenile for each 12 month reporting period thereafter is provided herein, or be currently certified in either criminal law or juvenile law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Attorneys must also have a private office facility/meeting room located in Galveston County.

 

Each attorney on the appointment list shall report his continuing education to the Communications Coordinator by December 3rd of each year, or specify that the attorney is board certified in either criminal or juvenile law. The Communications Coordinator shall each January issue the list of attorneys qualified for appointments for the current year.

 

Continuing legal education may include activities accredited under Section 4, Article XII, State Bar Rules, internet study, teaching at an accredited continuing legal education activity, attendance at a law school class, or legal research-based writing.

 

Continuing legal education activity completed within a one-year period immediately preceding an attorney’s initial reporting period may be used to meet the educational requirement for the initial year.

 

Continuing legal education activity completed during any reporting period in excess of the minimum ten-hour requirement for such period may be applied to the following period’s requirement. The carryover provision applies to one year only.

 

The Communications Coordinator shall accept new attorney applications and upgrade and reform the appointment list and provide appropriate certification forms for the attorney to file for the annual revision.

 

An attorney on the appointment list may be removed from the appointment list by letter of resignation to the Communications Coordinator.

 

This plan recognizes the different levels of seriousness of juvenile charges, ranging from non-death capital offenses all the way to status offenses (Child in Need of Supervision, Runaway and Truancy).  The Communications Coordinator shall add each attorney approved by the Board to the appointment list to handle case(s) for which they have demonstrated the requisite qualifications for trial or appeal.  The Board approves the following minimum qualifications:

 

A.    Capital Murder Where Death Penalty Is Not Sought by State of Texas:

1.      Board certified in criminal law, or;

2.      At least five (05) years experience in criminal litigation and tried to verdict at least eight (08) felony cases, excluding State Jail felonies.

B.     First Degree Felonies: 

1.       At least four (4) years experience in criminal/juvenile litigation, and tried to verdict at least five (05) felony jury trials;

C.     Second Degree Felonies:

1.      At least three (3) years experience in criminal/juvenile litigation, and prior experience in at least three felony jury trials as lead counsel;

D.    Third Degree Felonies and State Jail Felonies:

1.      At least one (1) year prior experience in criminal/juvenile litigation, and prior experience as lead counsel in at least three (3) criminal/juvenile jury trials, excluding Class C misdemeanors;

E.     Misdemeanors:

1.       Must meet basic requirements for all attorneys to be qualified for the juvenile appointment list.

 

The Communications Coordinator shall assign a rating of “A,” “B,”, “C”, “D”, or “E” to each attorney placed on the appointment list.  The rating shall be based upon the attorney’s qualifications gleaned from the application form submitted by the attorney. 

 

“A” rating means the attorney is qualified to be appointed to capital cases.

 

“B” rating means the attorney is qualified to be appointed to first degree felony cases.

 

“C” rating means the attorney is qualified to be appointed to second degree felony cases.

 

“D” rating means the attorney is qualified to be appointed to cases where indeterminate commitment to TYC is possible or third degree felonies and State jail felonies.

 

“E” rating means the attorney is qualified to be appointed to CNIS (Child in Need of Supervison) cases, misdemeanor cases and modification cases where TYC commitment is not possible.

 

 

All attorneys are required to be present during at least one (1) court hearing or proceeding and thoroughly tour the Juvenile Justice center before board approval.

  

A majority of the Judges on the Board must approve the attorneys on the appointment list.  After notice and hearing before the Board, an attorney can be removed from the list for failure to vigorously and competently represent the child, for unethical conduct, filing of a false claim for services, or other good cause.

 

The Referee or Judge may remove an attorney from a case and suspend further appointments pending a hearing before the Board on the grounds of removal or suspension.

 

 

Prompt Appointment of Counsel
10/24/2013

VI.

Time of Appointment

 

Unless the court finds that the appointment of counsel is not feasible due to exigent circumstances, the court shall appoint counsel within a reasonable time before the first detention hearing is held to represent the child at that hearing.

 

An attorney shall be appointed for a Child who is not represented by an attorney when:

 

1.      The Child is in detention and at the initial detention hearing the Child stands alone with no parent or other adult custodian.  The attorney will be present for the hearing.

 

2.      If at the conclusion of the initial detention hearing the Child is detained and the parent or other custodian state that no attorney has been retained, the Court shall appoint an attorney, set a trial date, advise the parent to retain an attorney or expect to be ordered to reimburse for the cost of the appointed attorney unless found to be indigent based upon the financial information form provided by the Court.

 

3.      If at the initial detention hearing the Child is not detained and the parent or other custodian state that no attorney has been retained, the Court shall, on or before 5th working day after the date the petition for adjudication, motion to modify, or discretionary transfer hearing was served, the Court shall appoint an attorney, set a trial date, advise the parent to retain an attorney or expect to be ordered to reimburse for the cost of the appointed attorney unless found to be indigent based upon the financial information form provided by the Court.

 

4.      Upon issuing a summons for a trial date for a Child who has not been before the Court for a detention hearing, a financial information form shall be attached for the parent together with the following notice:

 

"NOTICE TO PARENTS AND CHILD”

 

The Texas Juvenile Justice Code requires the child to have an attorney to represent the child at the hearing for which you have been summoned.  You should hire an attorney for your child.  If you feel you cannot afford to hire an attorney, please fill out the attached financial statement and bring it with you to the hearing.  If at the time of the hearing you have not hired an attorney, an attorney will be furnished to represent the child and if the court determines the parent is financially able to reimburse Galveston County for the cost of the attorney, an order will be entered requiring such reimbursement.  If you intend not to hire an attorney, the name of the attorney the court will furnish is ___________________ phone number _____________________.  Please call this attorney at once if you wish the County to furnish this attorney at the hearing."

 

If the attorney is not present when appointed under 2, 3, and 4 above, a letter will be sent on the date of the appointment to the attorney providing the name of the child, the child's address, and the court date.

 

 

Attorney Selection Process
10/30/2015

APPOINTMENT PROCEDURE

The Communications Coordinator shall update and maintain an electronic list of qualified attorneys.  The Referee shall appoint from the updated list.  The attorneys to be appointed shall be drawn from the top of the list in ascending order.  Each month the Referee will draw the top minimum of 4 and maximum of 6 names for appointments during that month, but no more than one "C" rated attorney shall be drawn.  If a "C" rated attorney is passed it will remain at the top of the list until drawn in a subsequent month.

An attorney appointed by the Referee for a case which ultimately is taken to the Judge for bench or jury trial shall remain as counsel for the Child unless substituted by the Judge.

If a case is presented to the Judge for trial and no attorney has previously been appointed by the Referee, the Judge shall appint the next qualified attorney from the list.

In the event of an appeal, trial counsel shall be counsel on appeal and compensated by the Judge of the Court at the rate of $66.00 per hour for services.

A form shall be provided to the parents for the purpose of determining eligibility for appointment of counsel.  The form shall be completed and sworn to under oath by the parent/guardian completing the form.  The Juvenile Court shall find that a person is indigent if the person is determined to be financially unable to retian adequate counsel without substantial hardship in providing basic economic necessities to the person or the person's dependent family.  Eligibility shall be determined on a case by case basis.  If the parent/guardian is not indigent but refuses to provide representation or counsel, the Juvenile Court is authorized to appoint counsel.

The attorney appointed shall make every reasonable effort to contact the juvenile within one (1) working day of notice of appointment and make every reasonable effort to interview the juvenile as sooon as practicable after receiving notice of appointment.  The court may replace an attorney who does not comply with the requirement of diligent contact with the juvenile.  An attorney who establishes a pattern of failure to diligently contact the child after appointment may be removed from the appointment list upon the vote of the majority of the Juvenile Board, following the procedure set out in the Annual Review section.

 

 

Fee and Expense Payment Process
10/24/2013

Fee and Expense Payment Process

 

INVESTIGATIVE and EXPERT EXPENSES

Counsel appointed in a noncapital case shall be reimbursed for the 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. Payments shall be in accordance with a schedule of fees adopted by the Juvenile Board

Procedure With Prior Court Approval:

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

  1. the type of investigation to be conducted or the type of expert to be retained;
  2.  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
  3. 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:

  1. state the reasons for denial in writing
  2. attach the denial to the confidential request; and
  3. submit the request and denial as a sealed exhibit to the record.

Procedure Without Prior Court Approval:

Appointed counsel may incur invesitgative 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 reasonbly incurred.  Unreasonable or unnecessary expenses will not be approved.

The Referee will limit the number of cases assigned to each attorney during the month of service to 15.  The attorney appointed for month shall be paid $2,200.00 for the services for the month.  If a contested bench trial is required, the attorney will be paid at the rate od  $66.00 per hour for preparation and court time, in addition to the monthly payment.  The attorney shall also be paid $100.00 for each case assigned beyond 15 cases concluded by plea, dismissal, or deferred proscution.

Compensation for attorney appointed cases, which are presented to the Judge or jury for conclusion, shall be allowed and paid by the Judge at the rate of $66.00 per hour for court and preparation time.

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.

No payment shall be made until a Judge approves payment after submission court's attorney fee voucher.  

 

Plan Documents
Galveston Juvenile Board Affidavit of Indigence.doc (12/1/2009 3:35:50 PM) view
Galveston Juvenile Board Attorney Application for Appointment.doc (10/24/2013 4:06:27 PM) view
Galveston Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Schedule.doc (8/6/2010 11:56:02 AM) view
Galveston Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Voucher.pdf (10/24/2013 4:05:29 PM) view
Galveston Juvenile Board CLE annual affidavit.doc (12/1/2009 3:36:56 PM) view