Williamson District Court and County Court Plan
Preamble
11/1/2019

Preamble

10/30/2019


This version of the Williamson District and County Court Plan (2019) has been adopted to assure compliance with the State Indigent Defense Act and related statutes.


Prompt Magistration
11/1/2019

  1. Prompt Magistration

    10/30/19

     

    1. The accused must be brought before the magistrate without necessary delay, but within 48 hours of arrest.  [Art. 14.06(a), CCP]

    2. If a defendant arrested for a misdemeanor, without a warrant, has not had probable cause determined by a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest, then they must be released on a surety bond in an amount of no more than $5,000, on a personal bond in an amount of no more than $5,000 [Art. 17.033, CCP], or without bail upon order by the magistrate with an affirmative finding of “no probable cause.”

    3. The magistrate must inform the defendant of the right to counsel and the right to request the appointment of counsel if unable to afford counsel. [Art. 15.17(a), CCP]

    4. The magistrate must ensure that reasonable assistance in completing forms necessary to request counsel is provided to the defendant. [Art. 15.17(a), CCP]

    5. A record must be made of:

      1. The magistrate informing the defendant of the defendant’s right to request appointment of counsel; [Art. 15.17(e)(1), CCP]

      2. The magistrate asking the defendant whether the defendant wants to request the appointment of counsel; [Art. 15.17(e)(2), CCP]; and

      3. Whether the defendant requested the appointment of counsel. [Art. 15.17(e)(3), CCP]

    6. If authorized to appoint counsel, the magistrate must act upon the request by the end of the first working day following receipt of the request for appointment of counsel. [Art. 15.17(a) and Art. 1.051(c)(2), CCP]

    7. If not authorized to appoint counsel, the magistrate shall, without unnecessary delay but not later than 24 hours, transmit the request to the court authorized to appoint counsel. [Art. 15.17(a), CCP]

    8. Defendants arrested out-of-county for Williamson County offenses: 

      1. Requests from a defendant arrested in another county on a Williamson County warrant shall be acted upon within 24 hours of receipt of request.

      2. Williamson County shall ensure that designated personnel and contact information (facsimile, telephone, electronic mail, etc.)  is maintained on the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) Website.

    9. Defendants arrested in Williamson County for out-of-county warrants: 

      1. For defendants arrested on out-of-county warrants, the magistrate will ask the defendant if he or 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 and assistance in completing the forms.  The forms will be transmitted to the TIDC listed appointing authority in the county issuing the warrant within 24 hours of the request being made.  [Art. 15.18(a-1), CCP]

      2. The designee shall inform an attorney appointed to represent a defendant on Williamson County charges who also has out-of-county warrants that the arrested defendant is being detained in the Williamson County jail on the out-of-county warrants in addition to any local charges.

      3. 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 if the following conditions exist:

        1. The defendant who has been arrested on an out-of-county warrant is entitled to and requests appointment of counsel, and;

        2. The defendant 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;

        3. The defendant has not been appointed counsel.

           

    Magistration Procedures

    10/30/2019

     

    1. Timing of presentment before a magistrate

      1. All defendants arrested on a felony charge shall be taken before a magistrate within 48 hours of arrest.

      2. All defendants initially arrested in another county on a Williamson County warrant for a Class B misdemeanor or higher offense shall be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of that defendant’s arrival at the Williamson County Jail.

      3. A request for a court appointed attorney by a defendant incarcerated in the Williamson County Jail for a Class B misdemeanor or higher offense, shall be brought to the attention of the magistrate’s office within 24 hours.

    2. At the time the defendant is presented to the magistrate, the magistrate shall:

      1. Determine whether probable cause existed for the defendant’s arrest.

      2. Inform the defendant of the charge(s) against him or her.

      3. In clear language, inform the defendant of the following rights:

        1. Right to retain counsel;

        2. Right to remain silent;

        3. Right to not make a statement and if he makes a statement, it can be used against him or her in court.

        4. Right to have an attorney present during any interview with peace officers or attorneys representing the state;

        5. Right to terminate the interview at any time;

        6. Right to an examining trial if charged with a felony offense; and

        7. Right to request the appointment of counsel if they are indigent and if the defendant cannot afford an attorney;

      4. Regarding the right to the right to a court appointed attorney, the Magistrate shall record the following:

        1. The defendant was informed of their right to request a court appointed attorney,

        2. The procedures for requesting a court appointed attorney, and;

        3. Whether or not the defendant requested an attorney be appointed.

    3. Attorney Election

      1. If the defendant advises the magistrate that he or she intends to hire his or her own attorney, the magistrate shall advise the defendant of the procedures for making a request for a court appointed attorney at any time after the initial magistration.

      2. If the defendant advises the magistrate that he or she needs a court appointed attorney, the magistrate shall:

        1. Record the request on the magistration form;

        2. Request the defendant complete, under oath, the Affidavit of Indigence;

        3. Obtain, under oath, such other information as may be necessary to a determination of the defendant’s ability to pay for an attorney;

        4. Assist the defendant in completing any paperwork necessary to request the appointment of an attorney;

        5. The Court or their designee shall, within 24 hours of receipt of the application, appoint or deny the request for court appointed counsel

    4. The application for court appointed attorney shall reflect all charges for which they are requesting counsel, both misdemeanors and felonies.

    If the defendant does not speak English or is deaf, the magistrate shall utilize an interpreter to ensure that the magistrate informs the arrested defendant in a manner consistent with Articles 38.30 and 38.21, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Indigence Determination Standards
11/1/2019


Indigence Determination Standards

10/30/2019

 

  1. Definitions – Terms used to determine eligibility for court appointed counsel shall have the following meanings:

    1. Indigent – A defendant who meets the financial criteria for court appointed counsel.

    2. Gross Household Income - The defendant's income and the income of all other persons related by birth, marriage or adoption who reside with the defendant.  Income shall include the total cash receipts, before taxes, from all resources, including money wages and the net receipts from non-farm or farm self-employment.  Income also includes regular payments from a governmental income maintenance program, alimony, child support, public or private pensions, annuities, and income from dividends, interest, rents, royalties, or periodic receipts from estate funds, veteran's benefits, training stipends, military family allotments or regular support from an absent family member or governmental income program (TANF, SNAP, SSI, unemployment compensation, or state or county general assistance or home relief), food and/or rent received in lieu of wages, money which is received from tax refunds, gifts, one-time insurance payments or compensation for injury or property loss, and non-cash benefits (food stamps, etc.).

    3. Liquid Assets - Include, but are not limited to, cash, savings, checking accounts, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, and equity in real and personal property, as well as any interest in retirement accounts.

    4. Household – Includes all individuals who are legal dependents of the defendant.

  2. Determination of Eligibility for Appointment of Counsel

    1. A defendant’s request for a court appointed attorney shall include a completed application and any requested supporting documentation.  To determine if a defendant is indigent, the judge or designee may consider the defendant’s gross income, assets, property owned, outstanding obligations, necessary expenses, the number and ages of defendant’s children, and spousal income that is available to the defendant.  In determining the defendant’s gross household income, the income of a victim of domestic violence or the income of a parent/guardian of a victim of domestic violence shall not be considered. Crimes of domestic violence include any assault on a child that is a member of the defendant’s household or assault on any adult who is a member of the defendant’s household. If a finding of indigency is made, counsel shall be appointed.

    2. For purposes of indigence under this plan, a defendant with a household income at or below 125% of the latest poverty guidelines established and revised annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and whose liquid assets do not exceed $5,000.00 for felony cases, or $2,500.00 for misdemeanor cases, is considered indigent.

    3. A defendant whose household income exceeds 125% of the latest poverty guidelines may still qualify for a court appointed attorney if the court or its designee determines special circumstances exist, and may consider unusual, excessive, or extraordinary medical expenses, the age or physical infirmity of household members, or other expenses.  The court may also consider the complexity of the case, the estimated cost of presenting a legal defense, the fees charged by lawyers in the community for providing defense services in similar cases, whether the defendant has retained counsel in related legal matters (such as ALR or forfeitures), and any efforts the defendant has made to retain an attorney.

    4. The court or the court's designee may not consider whether a defendant has posted or is capable of posting bail, except to the extent that it reflects the defendant's financial circumstances.

    5. If the defendant has transferred property after the offense date, the court shall determine the reason for the transfer of the property and whether adequate monetary consideration was received.  If adequate monetary consideration was not received, the court shall presume that the transfer was made for the purpose of establishing eligibility for court appointed counsel, unless the defendant furnishes clear and convincing evidence that the transfer was made exclusively for another purpose.  If a transfer was made either for the purpose of establishing eligibility or without adequate monetary consideration and the property is re-conveyed to the defendant or an adjustment is made by which the defendant receives full value, the defendant shall, if otherwise qualified, be eligible to receive court appointed counsel.

    6. The guidelines established for the appointment of counsel also apply to the reimbursement of expenses incurred for the purpose of investigation or expert testimony, as approved by the court.

  3. A defendant may be required to reimburse Williamson County in whole or in part for the cost of legal services provided, as set forth in Article 26(g) and (h) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and outlined below:

    (g) If the judge determines that a defendant has financial resources that enable the defendant to offset in part or in whole the costs of the legal services provided to the defendant in accordance with Article 1.051(c) or (d), including any expenses and costs, the judge shall order the defendant to pay during the pendency of the charges or, if convicted, as a reimbursement fee the amount that the judge finds the defendant is able to pay. The defendant may not be ordered to pay an amount that exceeds:

    (1) the actual costs, including any expenses and costs, paid by the county for the legal services provided by an appointed attorney; or

    (2) if the defendant was represented by a public defender's office, the actual amount, including any expenses and costs, that would have otherwise been paid to an appointed attorney had the county not had a public defender's office.

     

    (g-1)

                (1) This subsection applies only to a defendant who at the time of sentencing to confinement or placement on community supervision, including deferred adjudication community supervision, did not have the financial resources to pay the maximum amount described by Subsection (g)(1) or (2), as applicable, for legal services provided to the defendant.

                (2) At any time during a defendant's sentence of confinement or period of community supervision, the judge, after providing written notice to the defendant and an opportunity for the defendant to present information relevant to the defendant's ability to pay, may order a defendant to whom this subsection applies to pay any unpaid portion of the amount described by Subsection (g)(1) or (2), as applicable, if the judge determines that the defendant has the financial resources to pay the additional portion.

    (3) The judge may amend an order entered under Subdivision (2) if, subsequent to the judge's determination under that subdivision, the judge determines that the defendant is indigent or demonstrates an inability to pay the amount ordered.

                (4) In making a determination under this subsection, the judge may only consider the information a court or courts' designee is authorized to consider in making an indigency determination under Article 26.04(m).

                (5) Notwithstanding any other law, the judge may not revoke or extend the defendant's period of community supervision solely to collect the amount the defendant has been ordered to pay under this subsection.

     

    (h) Reimbursement of expenses incurred for purposes of investigation or expert testimony may be paid directly to a private investigator licensed under Chapter 1702, Occupations Code, or to an expert witness in the manner designated by appointed counsel and approved by the court.

Minimum Attorney Qualifications
11/1/2019

Minimum Attorney Qualifications

10/30/2019

 

        1. The Judges hearing criminal cases shall establish attorney appointment lists.  Attorneys may apply for and be placed on multiple lists. To be eligible for an appointment list, an attorney must meet the following minimum requirements:

          1. Misdemeanor List Qualifications:

            1. An attorney on the appointment list must ensure all information on their application is current;

            2. An attorney must be a licensed practicing attorney and a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas and the Williamson County Bar Association;

            3. An attorney shall comply with annual reporting requirement by submitting online the “TIDC Attorney Reporting Form” to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission ( https://tidc.tamu.edu/AttorneyReporting/ ).  This form shall be submitted by October 15th of each year;

            4. An attorney shall complete a minimum of 10 hours of CLE in the area of criminal law and procedure each year, including one hour of ethics relating to the practice of criminal law. All attorneys on the appointment list shall file by October 15th of each year the “Certificate of Compliance” with the designated Williamson County Court Coordinator attesting to completion of the required CLE or submit documentation showing that the attorney is certified as a specialist in criminal law;

          1. The designated reporting period shall be from October 1st to September 30th;

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

          3. Continuing legal education completed during any reporting period exceeding the minimum of 10 hours for such period may be applied to the following period’s requirement;

          4. This carryover provision applies to one year only;

            1. An attorney shall have a minimum six (6) months experience practicing criminal law;

            2. An attorney shall have experience as lead counsel in at least two (2) criminal jury cases tried to verdict. The styles and cause numbers of these cases should be listed on the Williamson County’s Application for Public Appointment form;

            3. 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 3 years;

            4. An attorney shall maintain an office capable of receiving telephone calls and documents via e-mail or fax;

            5. An attorney must have the ability to produce typed motions and orders;

            6. An attorney shall notify the designated Williamson County Court Administrator promptly, in writing, of any matter that would disqualify the attorney by law, regulation, rule or under these guidelines from receiving appointments to represent indigent defendants.

            Felony List Qualifications:

              1. An attorney on the appointment list must ensure all information on their application is current;

              2. An attorney shall be a licensed practicing attorney and a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas and the Williamson County Bar Association.

              3. An attorney shall be a resident of Williamson County OR maintain a physical office in Williamson County capable of receiving email and/or fax and telephone calls;

              4. An attorney shall comply with annual reporting requirement by submitting online the “TIDC Attorney Reporting Form” to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission ( https://tidc.tamu.edu/AttorneyReporting/ ).  This form shall be submitted by October 15th of each year;

              5. An attorney shall complete a minimum of 10 hours of CLE in the area of criminal law and procedure each year, including one hour of ethics relating to the practice of criminal law. All attorneys on the appointment list shall file by October 15th of each year the “Certificate of Compliance” with the designated Williamson County Court Coordinator attesting to completion of the required CLE or submit documentation showing that the attorney is certified as a specialist in criminal law;

                1. The designated reporting period shall be from October 1st to September 30th;

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

                3. Continuing legal education completed during any reporting period exceeding the minimum of 10 hours for such period may be applied to the following period’s requirement;

                4. This carryover provision applies to one year only;

              6. 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 three (3) years;

              7. An attorney shall notify the designated Williamson County Court Administrator promptly, in writing, of any matter that would disqualify the attorney by law, regulation, rule or under these guidelines from receiving appointments to represent indigent defendants.

              1. State Jail Felony and Third Degree Felony List Qualifications (The “B” List)

                1. An attorney shall meet general requirements for felony appointments;

                2. An attorney shall have a minimum of three (3) years experience practicing criminal law;

                3. An attorney shall have prior experience as 1st or 2nd chair in at least four (4) criminal jury trials tried to verdict. At least two (2) of the trials must have been for felony offenses. The styles and cause numbers of these cases shall be listed on the Williamson County Application for Public Appointment form.

              2. First and Second Degree Felony List Qualifications (The “A” List)

                1. An attorney shall meet general requirements for felony appointments;

                2. An attorney shall have a minimum of five (5) years experience practicing criminal law;

                3. An attorney shall have prior experience as 1st or 2nd chair in at least seven (7) criminal cases tried to verdict before a jury. At least three (3) of the trials must have been for felony offenses. The styles and cause numbers of these cases shall be listed on the Williamson County Application for Public Appointment form.

              3. Capital Case List Qualifications:

                1. Lead trial counsel shall be on the list of attorneys approved by the local selection committee of the Third 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 shall be on the list of attorneys approved by the local selection committee of the Third 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 shall be on the list of attorneys approved by the local selection committee of the Third Administrative Judicial Region for appointment as appellate counsel in death penalty cases, as provided in Article 26.052, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

              4. Appellate List Qualifications - An attorney shall meet at least one of the following criteria:

                1. Be currently board certified in criminal law or criminal appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; or

                2. Have personally authored and filed at least three (3) 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.

              Exceptions to the above requirements may be made for attorneys with specialized skills or training, such as:

              1. Fluency in a foreign language or sign language;

              2. Specialized training or experience with Mental Health cases;

              3. Experience with appellate law;

              4. Other specialized qualifications as deemed necessary by a majority of the judges.

              Approval for Appointment Lists

              1. Misdemeanor List and Misdemeanor Mental Health List – An attorney must be approved by a majority of the Williamson County - County Court at Law Judges hearing criminal cases.

              2. State Jail Felony List, Second and Third Degree Felony List, First Degree Felony List, Capital Case List, Appeal List, and Felony Mental Health List - An attorney must be approved for each list by a majority of the Williamson County – District Court Judges hearing criminal cases.

                 

                Standards and Responsibilities for Attorneys

                10/30/2019

                 

                    1. Notify the court within 72 hours of receipt of the appointment;

                    2. 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. Personally interview the defendant as soon as practicable after the attorney is appointed, but no later than 10 calendar days if the defendant is incarcerated in the Williamson County Jail.

                    1. Represent the defendant until:

                    1. The charges are dismissed;

                    2. The defendant is acquitted;

                    3. Appeals are exhausted; or

                    4. The attorney is relieved of his or her duties by the court, or replaced by other counsel, after a finding of good cause has been entered on the record.

                    Investigate, either personally or by 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.

                    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;

                    Be prepared to negotiate with the prosecutor for the most favorable resolution of the case as can be achieved through a plea agreement;

                    Be prepared to try the case to conclusion, either with or without a jury;

                    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;

                    Maintain reasonable communication and contact with the client at all times and keep the client informed of the status of the case;

                    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;

                    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; and,

                    Manage the attorney’s workload to allow for the provision of quality representation and the execution of the responsibilities listed in these rules in every case.


                     

                    Removal from Court Appointed Attorney List

                    10/30/2019

                     

                    1. A judge may replace an appointed attorney if the appointed attorney does not make an effort to contact the defendant by the end of the first working day, and/or does not interview the defendant within 10 calendar days, and/or for any other suitable reason, as determined by the judge.  An attorney may notify the judge of any non-compliance and obtain an exception for good cause.

                    2. An attorney may be removed from the misdemeanor or felony appointment lists, if a majority of the judges hearing misdemeanor or felony matters, respectively, determine that good cause exists for removal.  Good cause may include, but is not limited to:

                      1. Intentionally or repeatedly failing to fulfill the duties required by law or local rules;

                      2. Failing to provide effective assistance of counsel as determined by a Texas Appellate Court;

                      3. Failing on two or more occasions to contact or interview clients in a timely manner as required herein;

                      4. Submitting a claim for legal services not performed as specified in Article 26.05(e), Code of Criminal Procedure;

                      5. Having been found to have violated a rule of professional conduct by the State Bar of Texas;

                      6. After having been placed on the appointment list, being convicted of or receiving deferred adjudication for any offense, other than an offense punishable by a fine only;

                      7. Being under indictment or charged with an offense, other than an offense punishable by a fine only; or

                      8. Failing to comply with the requirements for continued inclusion on the appointment lists.

                    1. Reinstatement to Appointment Lists

                      1. An attorney who was removed from the appointment list 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 meets the other qualifications under this plan.

                      2. An attorney who was removed from the appointment list for not submitting the attorney's annual TIDC Attorney Reporting Form may be immediately reinstated upon submission of the form, so long as the attorney meets the other qualifications under this plan.

                      3. An attorney who has been removed from the appointment list for any other reason and who wishes to be reinstated must apply through the original application process.

                    2. Voluntary Removal

                      1. At attorney may request at any time, in writing, a period of temporary voluntary removal from the appointment list.

                      2. Upon receipt of a written request, the attorney shall be returned to the appointment list provided the attorney remains qualified.

                      3. If the period of voluntary removal exceeds one year, the attorney must reapply for appointments through the original application process.

                     

                     

                    Prompt Appointment of Counsel
                    11/1/2019


                    Prompt Appointment of Counsel

                    Felony and Misdemeanor Public Appointment Procedures

                    10/30/2019

                     

                    1. Timely Appointment by Court or Court Designee

                      1. Any request for court appointed counsel that is received by the Court or Court’s designee, shall be reviewed for a determination of indigency and, if approved, counsel shall be appointed from the public appointment list by the end of the first working day following the day the request was presented to the court.  Article 15.17, Code of Criminal Procedure.   “Working day” means Monday through Friday, except for official Williamson County holidays or closings.

                      2. It is recognized that certain interruptions of this sequence may occur.  The following provisions are intended to be used in the circumstances they describe:

                        1. All defendants who do not request or complete a request for a court appointed attorney at the time of magistration shall be provided with the instructions necessary to subsequently complete a request for court appointed counsel.

                        2. If a defendant is released on bail without making a request for court appointed counsel at the magistration hearing and the defendant subsequently discovers an inability to afford counsel, that defendant may call Williamson County Indigent Defense to schedule an appointment to apply for court appointed counsel. 

                        3. Requests for a court appointed attorney received from a defendant for charges pending in another county shall be treated consistent with these procedures.

                      3. If a defendant appears without counsel in any adversarial judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement, the court shall advise the unrepresented defendant of the right to counsel and procedures for obtaining counsel. 

                      4. In the case of a defendant who is charged with both a misdemeanor and a felony case, such defendant shall automatically be appointed legal counsel for the misdemeanor case if legal counsel is appointed on the felony case. The misdemeanor court or court designee shall appoint the same attorney that was appointed to the felony case unless the same legal counsel is not available to accept the appointment, or for good cause shown. If the defendant has requested court appointed counsel in the felony case and such request has been denied, the defendant may still request appointed counsel for the misdemeanor case by submitting the written request as set forth in these procedures. 

                      5. If a defendant is determined by the court or the court's designee to not be indigent, the court or the court's designee shall deny the request for court appointed counsel and within a reasonable time notify the defendant to retain private counsel.

                      6. In the event the application for appointment of counsel is granted, the Court or Court’s designee will note the approval on the defendant’s application and notify the defendant and the attorney of the appointment by telephone, facsimile, electronic mail, or in person.

                      7. A defendant may request court appointed counsel at their first court appearance if the defendant has not either previously requested or requested and was denied counsel at the time of magistration. 

                      8. If a defendant appears without counsel in any adversary judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement, 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.

                      9. In the Judge’s discretion, the defendant may request court appointed counsel at any other time allowed by the trial court.

                    Attorney Selection Process
                    11/1/2019


                    Attorney Selection Process

                    10/30/2019

                     

                    1. Assignment of Attorneys.  The following method shall be used to assign attorneys for all indigent defendants:

                      1. The selection and appointment of counsel shall be in accordance with Article 26.04 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and pursuant to these procedures. 

                      2. The misdemeanor appointment list shall include all attorneys who have applied and been approved by the County Court at Law Judges.  The felony appointment list shall include all attorneys who have applied and been approved by the District Court Judges.

                      3. When a finding of indigency has been made by the court, legal counsel shall be appointed by the court or the court’s designee on rotation from the appropriate appointment list as soon as possible, but not later than the end of the first working day after the court made the finding of indigency. “Working day” means Monday through Friday, except for official Williamson County holidays or closings. 

                      4. The court or its designee shall appoint the lawyer whose name appears next in order on the public appointment list that corresponds to the most serious offense as currently charged, unless:

                        1. The defendant is deaf or does not speak and understand the English language, in which case the next available attorney on the list speaking the defendant’s primary language will be appointed;

                        2. The court or its designee exercises discretionary authority to appoint one of the attorneys whose name is among the next five in order on the list;

                        3. In unusual circumstances, the court or its designee finds good cause for appointing any qualified, willing attorney;

                        4. When an attorney is appointed out of order under the above stated provisions, that attorney’s name will be moved to the last place and any lawyer who was not appointed will remain at the top of the list until appointed or removed from the list.

                      5. Each attorney appointed under these procedures shall represent the defendant until final disposition of the case or until released by the Court.

                      6. At the conclusion of all proceedings in the trial court, including post-trial motions, if an indigent defendant wishes to file an appeal the appointing judge or his or her designee shall appoint the lawyer whose name appears next in order on the Appellate List.  The appointment is subject to the same rotation provisions as those listed for trial attorneys.

                    2. Removal of an Appointed Attorney

                      1. An attorney may be removed from representation upon his or her request, if the Court is satisfied that the lawyer has good cause for being relieved and that the client will not be prejudiced.

                      2. The Court may, upon finding good cause on the record and that no prejudice to the defendant will result, replace appointed counsel (including the provisions of Article 26.052(e) of the Code of Criminal Procedure in a death penalty case).

                      3. Upon the defendant’s request, the Court may, upon finding of good cause which may include, but is not limited to, persistent or prolonged failure to communicate, replace appointed counsel.

                    3. Replacement counsel shall be selected and appointed immediately following removal of counsel as described above.

                    Fee and Expense Payment Process
                    11/1/2019


                    Fee and Expense Payment Process

                    10/30/2019

                     

                    1. Attorney Fee Schedule and Compensation of Appointed Attorneys

                      1. The fees set forth in the Felony Fee Schedule effective October 1, 2019 (see "Forms") and the Misdemeanor Fee Schedule effective June 29, 2018 (see "Forms") will be paid to court appointed attorneys for time reasonably necessary for adequate representation of the defendant.

                      2. Other services not specifically set forth therein shall be compensated at the rate of $75.00 per hour for misdemeanor cases and $75.00-$125.00 per hour for felony cases for time spent in or out of court objectively necessary for the adequate representation of the defendant, as determined by the judge of the court in which the representation was provided.

                      3. Request for payment by court appointed attorneys will be submitted electronically on the court’s approved form.  No payment shall be made for such services until the form has been submitted to the judge, and the judge has approved the payment.

                        1. 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.

                        2. An attorney whose request for payment is disapproved or is not acted upon within 60 days of submission may appeal the disapproval or failure to act by filing a motion with the presiding judge of the administrative judicial region.

                      4. If the judge determines that a defendant has financial resources that enable the defendant to offset in part or in whole the costs of legal services provided under this plan, the judge may order the defendant to pay the amount that the judge finds the defendant is able to pay in accordance with Article 26 as outlined above in Section 3 of “Indigence Determination Standards”.

                      5. Court appointed counsel shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses in the manner provided for by Articles 26.05 and 26.052 (f), (g), and (h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

                    2. Payment of Expenses:

                      1. Court appointed counsel will be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, including for investigation and experts. Whenever possible, prior court approval should be obtained before expenses are incurred.   Expenses incurred with and without prior approval shall be paid according to the procedures set forth below.

                      2. Procedure with Prior Court Approval:

                        1. Appointed Counsel may file with the trial court an ex parte 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.

                        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:

                          1. State the reasons for the 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

                      3. Procedure without Prior Court Approval:  

                        1. Appointed counsel may incur investigative or expert expenses without prior approval of the court.

                        2. 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.

                        3. Unreasonable or unnecessary expenses will not be approved.

                    Miscellaneous
                    11/1/2019

                    Current Plan Documents for Williamson County

                    Affidavit of Indigency – English 2019.10.30   view

                    Affidavit of Indigency – English 2019.10.30   view

                    Attorney Application for Appointment 2019.10.30   view

                    Attorney Fee Schedule District Courts 2019.10.30  view

                    Attorney Voucher District Courts 2019.10.30  view

                    County Court Waiver of Counsel 2019.10.30   view

                    Fee Schedule County Court at Law 2019.10.30   view

                    Magistrate Warning Form 2019.10.30    view

                    Order Offsetting Fees – Pendency of Case 2019.10.30   view

                    Order Offsetting Fess – Post-Adjudication 2019.10.30   view

                    Voucher County Court at Law 2019.10.30   view

                    Plan Documents
                    Williamson District and County Court Affidavit of Indigence.docx (11/1/2019 1:55:34 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Attorney Application for Appointment.pdf (11/1/2019 1:56:22 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (11/1/2019 1:58:33 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Attorney Fee Voucher County Court at Law.pdf (11/1/2019 2:01:18 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Attorney Fee Voucher.pdf (11/1/2019 1:58:54 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Dangers and Disadvantages of Self-Representation.pdf (12/4/2009 5:11:51 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Defendant information for court appointed counsel request.pdf (11/1/2017 2:09:39 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Defendent's Waiver of Ten Days to Prepare.jpeg (12/4/2009 5:14:09 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Defendents Financial Statement.pdf (12/4/2009 5:13:25 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Felony Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (9/2/2010 12:04:50 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Information Regarding Court Appointment Process- SPANISH.doc (5/2/2019 11:13:58 AM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Information Regarding Court Appointment Process-ENGLISH.doc (5/2/2019 11:12:38 AM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Inmate Request Form.pdf (12/2/2009 9:29:31 AM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Magistrate’s Warning Form.pdf (11/1/2019 1:54:17 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Magistration Form.pdf (12/2/2009 10:27:07 AM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Misdemeanor Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (9/2/2010 12:05:25 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Order Appointing Attorney and Notice of Court Date.doc (12/4/2009 5:25:51 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Order to Offset Fees-Pendency of Case.pdf (11/1/2019 2:10:13 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Order to Offset Fees-Post Adjudication.pdf (11/1/2019 2:11:19 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Waiver of Attorney.jpeg (12/4/2009 5:24:45 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Waiver of Counsel.doc (11/1/2019 1:59:32 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Williamson County Court Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (10/30/2015 3:25:23 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Williamson County Order Denying Court Appointed Attorney - Misdemeanor.doc (11/7/2011 12:46:02 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Williamson District and County Court Attorney Application for Public Appointment to Represent Indigent Defendants in the Williamson County Courts at Law.doc (11/7/2011 10:31:03 AM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Williamson District and County Court Attorney Fee Voucher - Misdemeanors.doc (11/7/2011 11:44:30 AM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Williamson District and County Court Information About Right to an Attorney.doc (11/7/2011 12:14:11 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Williamson District and County Court Order Appointing Attorney and Notice of Court Date - Misdemeanor.doc (11/7/2011 12:29:11 PM) view
                    Williamson District and County Court Williamson District and County Court Qualifications for Attorneys Seeking Appointments in Misdemeanor Cases.doc (11/7/2011 10:07:23 AM) view