Titus District Court and County Court Plan
Preamble
10/30/2019

Be it remembered that the District and County Judges for Titus County, Texas, hereby adopt, order, establish and order published these countywide procedures, rules, and orders for the timely and fair appointment of counsel for indigent accused persons in Titus County, Texas.  This document is the Titus County Indigent Defense Plan that conforms with requirements of statutes passed by the Texas Legislature and approved by the Governor and rules and regulations established by the Task Force on Indigent Defense.

Prompt Magistration
10/31/2019

A.    Arresting Officer Responsibilities

                                i.            The arresting officer, or the person having custody of the arrestee, shall ensure that every arrestee shall be brought before a magistrate without unnecessary delay, but not later than 48 hours after the person is arrested. 

                              ii.            Unless arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant, bench warrant, capias, or other order of a magistrate or judge, necessary forms establishing probable cause must be completed and filed at the time an arrestee is booked into jail for any felony or misdemeanor punishable by incarceration.

                            iii.             Release of defendants arrested without warrant

1.      A person arrested for a misdemeanor without a warrant and who is detained in jail must be released not later than the 24th hour after arrest, on a bond in an amount not to exceed $5,000, if a magistrate has not determined that probable cause exists to believe that the person committed the offense. 

2.      A person arrested for a felony without a warrant and who is detained in jail must be released not later than the 48th hour after arrest, on a bond in an amount not to exceed $10,000, if a magistrate has not determined that probable cause exists to believe that the person committed the offense. 

3.      If requested by the state, a magistrate may postpone the release of the defendant for not more than 72 hours after the defendant's arrest if a probable cause determination has not been made, in compliance with the procedure set forth in Article 17.033, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

B.     Magistrate Duties

                                i.            At the Magistrate’s hearing, the magistrate should determine if accused can speak and understand English, or if the defendant is deaf.

                              ii.            After making such determination, the magistrate shall, in an appropriate manner consistent with Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 38.30 and 38.31, do the following:

1.      Advise the accused of the accusation against him/her and any affidavit filed therewith;

2.      Admonish the accused of:

a.       The right to retain counsel;

b.      The right to remain silent;

c.       The right to have an attorney present during any interview with peace officers or attorneys representing the state;

d.      The right to terminate an interview at any time;

e.       The right not to make a statement and that any statement made by the accused may be used against him/her; and

f.       The right to an examining trial.

3.      Inform the accused of the right to appointed counsel if the person cannot afford counsel and the procedures for requesting appointment of counsel.

4.      Inquire as to whether accused is requesting that counsel be appointed.

5.      Provide accused persons requesting appointed counsel with necessary forms for requesting appointment of counsel and ensure that reasonable assistance in completing required forms is provided to the accused at the time of the magistrate’s hearing.

6.      If the magistrate has reason to believe the accused is not mentally competent, the magistrate shall enter a request for counsel on behalf of the accused. Such a request will alert the appointing authority that counsel competent to represent mentally ill persons should be appointed.

                            iii.            In cases where the individual was arrested without an arrest warrant, bench warrant, capias, or other order of magistrate or judge, the magistrate shall determine if there is probable cause to believe the person committed the offense.

1.      If probable cause has not been determined by a magistrate:

a.       A person arrested for a misdemeanor must be released on bond, in an amount not to exceed $5,000, not later than 24 hours after the person's arrest.

b.      A person arrested for a felony must be released on bond, in an amount not to exceed $10,000, not later than 48 hours after the person’s arrest.

c.       If requested by the State, the magistrate may postpone the release of the defendant for not more than 72 hours after the defendant's arrest, in compliance with the procedure set forth in Article 17.033, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

                            iv.            The magistrate shall set the amount of bail and any conditions of bond for the accused, if bail is allowed by law and has not been set by the court or magistrate issuing a warrant.

                              v.            The magistrate shall record the following:

1.      The date and time the accused was arrested and the date and time when he/she was brought before the magistrate.

2.      Whether the magistrate informed the accused of the right to request appointment of counsel and asked the accused whether he/she wants to request counsel.

3.      Whether the accused requested appointment of counsel.

                            vi.            If the magistrate is not authorized to appoint counsel and if the accused requests appointment of counsel, the magistrate shall transmit or cause to be transmitted the magistrate form and any other forms requesting appointment of counsel to the Titus County Justice of the Peace or Municipal Judge of the City of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, whomever is on rotation duty at that time.  (Titus County has two (2) Justices of the Peace: Justice of the Peace, Precincts 1, 3 and 4; and, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2.) The forms requesting appointment of counsel shall be transmitted without unnecessary delay, but not later than 24 hours after the person arrested requests appointment of counsel.  For further clarification, the Magistrates who are vested with authority to make appointments for Indigent Defendants, under the Indigent Defense Plan for Titus County, after making an appointment, are directed to immediately deliver to the Titus County District Clerk for the 76th/276th Judicial District Courts or the County Clerk of Titus County, whichever is applicable, the originals of all forms ("forms") required to be delivered by the appointing Magistrate under the Titus County Indigent Defense Plan and to specifically deliver all forms evidencing the name of the Attorney appointed by the Magistrate.  The term "immediately deliver" as used herein means that the appointing Magistrate should assure that the originals of all "forms" are delivered to the District Clerk's Office or County Clerk's Office, as applicable,  by hand-delivery to the District Clerk's office located in the Titus County Courthouse Annex or the County Clerk located in the Titus County Courthouse, during regular business hours within one (1) business day after the appointment has been made by the appointing Magistrate.  As an alternative, the magistrate may fax a copy of all original "forms" of appointment to the District Clerk's at 903-577-6719 or the County Clerk's Office at 903-572-5078, as applicable, within one (1) business day after the appointment is made, with hand-delivery of all original forms to take place within 5 business day thereafter.  If the magistrate chooses to fax  a copy of the appointment forms to the District Clerk or County Clerk,  such magistrate shall keep a record of the fax confirmation page and within 1 hour of sending the fax, call the appropriate clerks office to ensure all appointment "forms" were received.  

                          vii.           If the magistrate is authorized to appoint counsel, the magistrate shall make a determination of indigence and appoint counsel, if the defendant is indigent, within three working days unless the County has a U.S. Census population over 250,000, in which case counsel shall be appointed within one working day.

                        viii.            Within the times and in the manner stated above, a request for counsel was made at magistration, the appointing authority shall forward the magistrate form and any other forms requesting appointment of counsel to the appropriate clerk to be put into the case file.

                            ix.            Within the times and in the manner stated above, a request for counsel was not made at magistration, the magistrate will forward the magistrate form to the clerk to be put into the case file.

                x.            For persons arrested on out-of-county warrants, the magistrate shall ask the defendant if he/she would like to request appointed counsel. The magistrate will record the response, and if counsel is requested, the magistrate will provide the arrestee with the appropriate forms for requesting counsel. The magistrate will ensure assistance in completing the forms at the same time. The forms will be transmitted to the appointing authority (magistrate) in the county issuing the warrant within 24 hours of the request being made utilizing the fastest delivery method available such as fax or email transmission.   

Indigence Determination Standards
10/31/2019

A.    Definitions, as used in this rule:

                                i.            “Indigent” means a person who is not financially able to employ counsel.

                              ii.            “Net household income” means all income of the accused and spousal income actually available to the accused. Such income shall include: take-home wages and salary (gross income earned minus those deductions required by law or as a condition of employment); net self-employment income (gross income minus business expenses, and those deductions required by law or as a condition of operating the business); regular payments from a governmental income maintenance program, alimony, child support, public or private pensions, or annuities; and income from dividends, interest, rents, royalties, or periodic receipts from estates or trusts. Seasonal or temporary income shall be considered on an annualized basis, averaged together with periods in which the accused has no income or lesser income.

                            iii.            “Non-exempt assets and property” means cash on hand, stocks and bonds, and accounts at financial institutions.

                            iv.            “Household” means all individuals who are actually dependent on the accused for financial support.

                              v.            “The cost of obtaining competent private legal representation” includes the reasonable cost of support services such as investigators and expert witnesses as necessary and appropriate given the nature of the case.

B.     Eligibility for Appointment

                                i.            An accused is presumed indigent if, at the time of requesting appointed counsel, any of the following conditions or factors are present:

                           1.   The accused or accused's dependents are eligible to receive food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, or public housing;

                           2.   The accused's net household income does not exceed 125% of the Poverty Guidelines as revised annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and published in the Federal Register; or,

                           3.    The accused is currently serving a sentence in a correctional institution, is currently residing in a public mental health facility, or is subject to a proceeding in which admission or commitment to such a mental health facility is sought.

                            ii.              An accused who does not meet any of the standards above shall nevertheless be considered indigent if the accused is unable to retain private counsel without substantial hardship to the accused or the accused’s dependents. In considering if obtaining private counsel will create a substantial hardship, the appointing authority shall take into account:

1.      the nature of the criminal charge(s),

2.      anticipated complexity of the defense,

3.      the estimated cost of obtaining competent private legal representation for the matter(s) charged;

4.      the amount needed for the support of the accused and the accused’s dependents; 

5.      accused’s income,

6.      source of income,

7.      assets and property owned,

8.      outstanding obligations,

9.      necessary expenses,

10.  the number and ages of dependents, and

11.  spousal income that is available to the accused.

iii.          Factors  NOT to be considered in determining indigence:

1.      The accused’s posting of bail or ability to post bail may not be considered in determining whether the accused is indigent.

2.      The resources available to friends or relatives of the accused may not be considered in determining whether the accused is indigent.

                            iv.            Only the accused's financial circumstances as measured by the financial standards stated in this rule shall be used as the basis for determining indigence.

C.     Indigence Proceedings:

                                i.            The appointing authority can require the accused to respond to questions about the accused’s financial status, produce documentation supporting financial information provided, and/or order a court official to verify financial information provided.  

                              ii.            Information gathered for determining indigence, both in the affidavit of indigence and through oral examination, may not be for any purpose other than:

1.      Determining if accused is (or is not) indigent; or

2.      Impeaching direct testimony of accused regarding the accused’s indigence.

However, the affidavit of indigence or other documents may be used for prosecution in a separate matter if an accused intentionally or knowingly hides or omits assets;  hides, omits or substantially under reports income; or commits or attempts to

commit a fraud against the State of Texas or any County.   See section D titled "Verification" below for more information.

                            iii.            A request by the appointing authority for additional information, documentation, and/or verification cannot delay appointment of counsel beyond the timelines specified in the plan and contained in Code of Criminal Procedure article 1.051.

                            iv.            An accused determined to be indigent is presumed to remain indigent for the remainder of the case unless a material change in the accused’s financial circumstances occurs.

1.      An accused’s status as indigent or not indigent may be reviewed in a formal hearing at any stage of court proceedings, on a motion for reconsideration by the accused, the accused’s attorney, the attorney representing the state or on the Courts own motion. The accused’s indigent status will be presumed not to have changed. The presumption can be rebutted in the review proceedings based on the following:

a.       Evidence of a material change in the accused’s financial circumstances, as a result of which the accused does not meet the standards for indigence contained in these rules; or

b.      Additional information regarding the accused’s financial circumstances that shows that the accused does not meet the standards for indigence contained in these rules including erroneous or fraudulent information provided at the time counsel was appointed.

2.      If an accused previously determined to be indigent is subsequently determined not to be indigent, the attorney shall be compensated by the county according to the fee schedule for hours reasonably expended on the case.

                              v.            If the court determines that a defendant has financial resources that enable him to offset in part or in whole the costs of the legal services provided, including any expenses and costs, the court shall order the defendant to pay during the pendency of the charges or, if convicted, as court costs, the amount that it finds the defendant is able to pay.

                 

  D.  Verification:

                   1.   If an appointing magistrate believes or suspects that an accused has falsified, omitted income, altered, forged or otherwise suspects that the accused may be attempting to hide assets, underreport income or possibly commit a fraud against the County or the State of Texas, the magistrate shall proceed ahead and appoint the accused the next attorney on the list to avoid delays in criminal cases.  After appointing the accused an attorney, the appointing magistrate shall report all suspected fraud, suspected falsification, ommission of income or other suspected fraud, along with the accused's information to:  The Office of the Administrative District Judge at 105 W. 1st Street in Mount Pleasant, TX 75455 by hand delivery within 48 hours.  The appointing magistrate shall provide the District Judges with a copy of all documents they suspect are fraudulent.  


                          The Administrative District Judge may review the accused's indigency documents and appointment forms and at his/her discretion may:          

                                         (a)  attempt to determine if the accused is indigent and assess the validity of any or all forms submitted by the accused for indigent determination or the appointment of an attorney

                                         (b) contact the accused to verify the documents validity

                                         (c) when appropriate, contact law enforcement for criminal charges relating to violations of Texas or federal law.








Minimum Attorney Qualifications
10/31/2019

A.  The Judges hearing criminal cases shall establish attorney appointment lists for the following categories of offenses below.  Attorneys shall apply to be placed on appointment lists by using the attorney application appointment form and must be approved by the majority of judges.  Attorneys may apply for and be placed on multiple lists.  Each attorney to be eligible for listing on the Attorney Indigent Defendant Appointment List, must maintain a physical office in Camp, Morris or Titus County, Texas.  "Physical Office" for the purposes of this requirement shall mean that the Attorney maintains an in-District physical location out of which the Attorney conducts the Attorney's law practice that is not part of a residence and who is either a solo practitioner, or a partner or associate of a firm which maintains an office in the District, or who leases / rents space from an Attorney who maintains a physical office in the district and said lessee / renter Attorney does not maintain an office in a County not in the District.  The lessee / renter Attorney shall have his / her own individual listing in the phone book showing his / her office address and an in-district phone and fax number.  Any Attorney who is listed as the appointed attorney of record for an indigent Defendant entering a plea of guilty, or appearing for pre-trial matters or trial will be required to be present.  This requirement does not apply to appearing for another appointed counsel at general docket calls or under circumstances under which the appointed attorney of record has a sufficient reason, acceptable to the Court, for having another attorney appear on his or her behalf.    This requirement is to assure that appointed counsel will be able to provide immediate, continuing and effective representation of the indigent defendant whom the attorney is appointed to represent.   


 B.   An attorney shall submit by October 15th each year a statement that describes the percentage of the attorney's practice time that was dedicated to work based on appointments accepted in this county for adult criminal cases and juvenile delinquency cases for the prior 12 months that begins on October 1 and ends on September 30.  The report must be submitted, by using the form prescribed by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, to the court administration office of Titus County, specifically the Titus County Auditors Office.  Failure to file the prescribed report may result in removal of the attorney from the list of qualified indigent defense counsel eligible for appointment.   


To be eligible for an appointment list, an attorney must also meet the following requirements:

                                i.            Misdemeanor Qualification Requirements:

1.      All attorneys on the appointment list must ensure all information on their application is correct;

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

3.      An attorney shall complete a minimum of 6 hours of CLE in the area of criminal law and procedure each year. All attorneys on the appointment list must file a certificate with the auditors office each year attesting to completion of the required CLE or submit documentation showing that the attorney is certified as a specialist in criminal law. Continuing legal education activity completed within a one year period immediately preceding an attorney’s initial reporting period may be used to meet the educational requirements for the initial year. Continuing legal education activity completed during any reporting period in excess of the minimum of required hours for such period may be applied to the following period’s requirement. The carryover provision applies to one year only;

4.      An attorney may not have been the recipient of any public disciplinary action by the State Bar of Texas or any other attorney licensing authority of any state or the United States within the last one year(s);

5.      An attorney must maintain an office capable of receiving email, fax, and telephone calls and shall promptly notify the Titus County District Clerk for the 76th /276th Judicial District Court or Titus County Court Clerk of any email, fax or phone changes within one (1) business day after the change.  

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

7.      An attorney shall promptly notify the District Clerks Office and District Court Judges, in writing, of any matter that would disqualify the attorney by law, regulation, rule or under these guidelines from receiving appointments to represent indigent defendants.

                              ii.            State Jail and Third Degree Felony Case Qualification Requirements

1.      An attorney must meet general requirements for misdemeanor appointments.

                            iii.            First and Second Degree Felony Case Qualification Requirements

1.      An attorney must meet the general requirements for State Jail and Third Degree Felony appointments.

2.      An attorney must have experience as 1st or 2nd chair in prior felony case(s) tried to verdict before a jury. The styles and cause numbers of these cases must be listed in the District Courts appointment application form.

                            iv.            Capital Case Qualification Requirements:

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

2.      Second chair counsel must be on the list of attorneys approved by the local selection committee of this administrative judicial region for appointment as lead trial counsel or second chair counsel in death penalty cases, as provided in Article 26.052, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

3.      Appellate counsel must be on the list of attorneys approved by the local selection committee of this administrative judicial region for appointment as appellate counsel in death penalty cases, as provided in Article 26.052, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. 

                              v.            Appeal Qualification Requirements - An attorney must meet at least one of the following criteria:

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

2.      Have personally authored and filed at least three criminal appellate briefs or post-conviction writs of habeas corpus; or

3.      Have submitted an appellate writing sample approved by a majority of the judges; or

4.      Have worked as a briefing clerk of an appellate court for a period of at least one year.

C.     Approval for Appointment Lists

                                i.            Misdemeanor List – An attorney must be approved by the County Court Judge hearing criminal cases.

                              ii.            State Jail and Third Degree Felony, First and Second Degree Felony List, Capital Case List, and Appeal List  - An attorney must be approved for each list by the District Court Judges hearing criminal cases.

D.     Removal from Appointment List - The judges will monitor attorney performance on a continuing basis to assure the competency of attorneys on the list. An attorney may be removed or suspended, as appropriate, from one or more appointment lists by a majority vote of the judges.

E.    Reinstatement to Appointment Lists

                                i.            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 otherwise meets the other qualifications under this Plan.

                              ii.            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. 

F.     Duties of Appointed Counsel - Appointed Counsel shall:

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

                              ii.            Make every reasonable effort to:

1.      Contact the defendant by the end of the first working day after the date on which the attorney is appointed; and

2.      Interview the defendant as soon as practicable after the attorney is appointed;

                            iii.            Represent the defendant until:

1.      Charges are dismissed;

2.      The defendant is acquitted;

3.       Appeals are exhausted; or

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

                            iv.            Investigate, either by self or through an investigator, the facts of the case and be prepared to present any factual defense(s) that may be reasonably and arguably available to the defendant;

                              v.            Brief the law of the case and be prepared to present any legal defense(s) that may be reasonably and arguably available to the defendant;

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

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

                        viii.            Be prepared to file post-trial motions, give notice of appeal and appeal the case pursuant to the standards and requirements of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure;

                            ix.            Maintain reasonable communication and contact with the client and keep the client informed of the status of the case(s).  If a client is in custody and has not been sentenced in the appointed case or any other case against the incarcerated client, the

                            attorney assigned the case shall keep contact and communication with the client at a minimum of twice per month until the client is no longer incarcerated or until the appointed case is disposed.  The attorney shall keep a record of all contact with

                            incarcerated clients and, upon request, provide the court with these contact dates.  It is recommended that each appointed attorney utilize the encrypted inmate-to-attorney email system now in place at the Titus County Jail to assist in retaining

                            accurate contact records.   However, the attorney can use whatever method he/she chooses to stay in contact with locally incarcerated clients and record keeping.

                              x.            Advise the client on all matters involving the case and such collateral matters as may reasonably be required to aid the client in making appropriate decisions about the case;

                            xi.            Perform the attorney’s duty owed to the defendant in accordance with these procedures, the requirements of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and applicable rules of ethics; and

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

Prompt Appointment of Counsel
10/29/2019

A.    Prompt Appointment of Counsel

                                i.            Counsel shall be appointed as soon as possible to indigent defendants, but no later than the end of the third working day after the date on which the appointing authority receives the defendant’s request for court appointed counsel. Working day means Monday through Friday, excluding official state or recognized federal holidays.  Counsel must be appointed whether or not a case has been filed in the trial court.

                              ii.            If the defendant is released from custody prior to the appointment of counsel, appointment of counsel is not required until the defendant’s first court appearance or when adversarial judicial proceedings are initiated, whichever comes first.


                             iii.            If an indigent defendant is arrested in another county based on this county’s warrant, counsel will be appointed within three working days of this county's receipt of the request for counsel.

  iv.    If a defendant is arrested in this county based on another county's warrant, counsel will be appointed for the defendant if, on the eleventh day after the arrest, the defendant is still in custody.  

                              v.            If a defendant wishes to request counsel prior to the initial appearance, the forms required to request counsel may be obtained at the Texas Indigent Defense Commission’s website at http://tidc.tamu.edu/public.net/ or from: the Justice of the Peace, Precincts 1, 3, 4 (100 S. Madison Ave, Suite 100, Mt. Pleasant, TX 75455); Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 (100 S. Madison Ave Suite 200, Mt. Pleasant, TX 75455) or the Municipal Judge of the City of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. The defendant may submit these forms back to the Justice of the Peace, Precincts 1, 3, 4; Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2 or the Municipal Judge that gave the defendant the forms .

The court will rule on all requests for counsel submitted in this manner.

                           Vi.            Appointment Authority

1.      If no case has been filed in the trial court, the appointing authority for misdemeanors is: Justice of the Peace, Precincts 1, 3 and 4; Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2; or, Municipal Judge of the City of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, whomever is on rotation duty at the time.

2.      If no case has been filed in the trial court, the appointing authority for felonies is: Justice of the Peace, Precincts 1, 3 and 4; Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2; or, Municipal Judge of the City of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, whomever is on rotation duty at the time.

3.      If the case has been filed in the trial court, the appointing authority is: Justice of the Peace, Precincts 1, 3 and 4; Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2; or, Municipal Judge of the City of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, whomever is on rotation duty at the time.

4.  The District or County Judges may appoint counsel if deemed necessary by the court.  

B.     Defendants Appearing Without Counsel - If a defendant appears without counsel in any adversarial judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement:

                                i.            The court may not direct or encourage the defendant to communicate with the attorney representing the state until the court advises the defendant of the right to counsel and the procedure for requesting appointed counsel and the defendant has been given a reasonable opportunity to request appointed counsel.

                              ii.            If the defendant has requested appointed counsel, the court may not direct or encourage the defendant to communicate with the attorney representing the state unless the appointing authority has denied the request and, subsequent to the denial, the defendant:

1.      Has been given a reasonable opportunity to retain and has failed to retain appointed counsel; or

2.      Waived or has waived the opportunity to retain private counsel.

                            iii.            The attorney representing the state may not:

1.      Initiate or encourage an attempt to obtain from the defendant a waiver of the right to counsel; or

2.      Communicate with a defendant who has requested the appointment of counsel, unless the appointing authority has denied the request and subsequent to the denial, the defendant:

a.       Has been given a reasonable opportunity to retain counsel; or

b.      Waives or has waived the opportunity to retain private counsel.

C.     Waiver of the Right to Counsel

                                i.            A defendant may voluntarily and intelligently waive the right to counsel.

                              ii.            A waiver obtained in violation of Paragraph B., above, is presumed invalid.

                            iii.            If a defendant wishes to waive the right to counsel for purposes of entering a guilty plea or proceeding to trial, the court shall advise the defendant of the nature of the charges against the defendant and, if the defendant is proceeding to trial, the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation.  If the court determines that the waiver is voluntarily and intelligently waived, the court shall provide the defendant with a statement substantially in the following form, which, if signed by the defendant, shall be filed with and become part of the record of the proceedings.

“I have been advised this ___ day of ____, 2___, by the (name of court) Court of my right to representation by counsel in the case pending against me.  I have been further advised that if I am unable to afford counsel, one will be appointed for me free of charge.  Understanding my right to have counsel appointed for me free of charge if I am not financially able to employ counsel, I wish to waive that right and request the court to proceed with my case without an attorney being appointed for me.  I hereby waive my right to counsel. (signature of defendant)”

                            iv.            A defendant may withdraw a waiver of the right to counsel at any time but is not entitled to repeat a proceeding previously held or waived solely on the grounds of the subsequent appointment or retention of counsel.  If the defendant withdraws a waiver, the trial court, in its discretion, may provide the appointed counsel 10 days to prepare.

Attorney Selection Process
10/29/2019

A.    The appointing authority will identify which of the appointment lists, discussed in the section above, entitled minimum attorney qualification, is most appropriate based on the accusations against the defendant and will appoint the attorney whose name is first on the list or among the next five names on the appointment list, unless the court makes a finding of good cause on the record for appointing an attorney out of order. Good cause may include:

                                i.            The defendant requesting counsel does not understand English, in which case the judge will appoint the lawyer whose name appears next in order and speaks the clients’ language, if one is available;

                              ii.            The defendant has an attorney already appointed on a prior pending or concluded matter. The same attorney will be appointed to the new matter, unless the attorney is not on the list for the type of offense involved in the current case; or

                            iii.            Other good cause exists for varying from the list.

B.     Once appointed, an attorney’s name will be moved to the bottom of the appointment list. 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.

C.     Judicial Removal from Case:

                                i.            The judge presiding over a criminal case may remove appointed counsel upon entering a written order showing good cause for such removal, including without limitation, the following:

1.      Counsel’s failure to appear at a court hearing;

2.      Counsel’s failure to comply with the requirements imposed upon counsel by this plan;

3.      Current information about the defendant and the charges against the defendant indicate that another qualified attorney is more appropriate for the defendant under these rules;

4.      Replacement of appointed counsel in a death penalty case is required under Article 26.052(e), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure;

5.      The appointed counsel shows good cause for being removed, such as illness, workload or scheduling difficulties;

6.      The defendant requests an attorney, other than trial counsel, for appeal; or

7.      The defendant shows good cause for removal of counsel, including counsel’s persistent or prolonged failure to communicate with the defendant.

                              ii.            Appointment of Replacement Counsel - Whenever appointed counsel is removed under this section, replacement counsel shall immediately be selected and appointed in accordance with the procedures described in this plan.

              iii.  Additional Grounds for Removal:

                        An attorney may be removed from the appointment list if the attorney:

                           1.  has twice or more failed to contact or interview clients in a timely manner as required by Article 26.04(j)(1), Code of Criminal Procedure;

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

                           3.  fails to maintain compliance with each of the appointment list guidelines;

                           4.  has been found by a court to have provided ineffective assistance of counsel

                           5.  has violated a rule of professional responsibility;

                           6.  has been convicted of or received a deferred adjudication for any an offense, other than an offense punishable by a fine only;

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

                           8.  has intentionally misrepresented statements on the application for the appointment list.

                        An attorney may also be removed from the appointment list for any other stated good cause.     

Fee and Expense Payment Process
10/31/2019

A.     Court appointed counsel and, if applicable, the regional public defenders office or an appointed prosecuting attorney's office, shall be compensated for all reasonable and appropriate services rendered.  Compensation shall be reasonable for time and effort expended and will be in accordance to the fee schedule adopted and approved by a majority of the judges hearing criminal cases in the county, pursuant to the contract of a contracting attorney or pursuant to this court plan.  Capital Felony cases shall be compensated at a discretionary rate set by the Administrative District Judge, but, shall be no less than $75 per hour and may include reimbursement for necessary expenses (See Payment of Appointed Counsel and the Regional Public Defenders Office on Capital Cases section below). 

B.       Payment Process:  Payment of attorney’s fees, payments to the Regional Public Defenders Office, appellate attorney, appointed special prosecutors, appointed pro-tem attorney or appointed prosecuting attorneys office fees will be made in accordance with the rules set forth in this court plan or in accordance with the contract of a contracting attorney or at the discretion of the district judge. 


                                i.            An appointed attorney shall fill out and submit to the court for services rendered, a fee voucher.

                              ii.            The trial judge presiding over the proceedings shall review the request for compensation and either approve or disapprove of the amount requested.

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

2.      An attorney whose request for payment is disapproved or is not otherwise acted on by the 60th day after the date the request for payment is submitted may appeal the disapproval or failure to act by filing a motion with the presiding judge of this administrative judicial region.

C.     Payment of Expenses:

                                i.            Court appointed counsel and, if applicable, the Regional Public Defenders office, appellate attorney, appointed special prosecutor, appointed  pro-tem or prosecuting attorneys office will be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred, including expenses for investigation and for mental health and other experts. Expenses incurred with and without prior approval shall be paid according to the procedures set forth below. Whenever possible prior court approval should be obtained before expenses are incurred. 


                              ii.            Procedure With Prior Court Approval:

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

a.       The type of investigation to be conducted or the type of expert to be retained;

b.      Specific facts that suggest the investigation will result in admissible evidence or that the services of an expert are reasonably necessary to assist in the preparation of a potential defense; and

c.       An itemized list of anticipated expenses for each investigation and/or each expert.

2.      The court shall grant the request for advance payment of expenses in whole or in part if the request is reasonable. If the court denies in whole or in part the request for expenses, the court shall:

a.       State the reasons for the denial in writing;

b.      Attach the denial to the confidential request; and

c.       Submit the request and denial as a sealed exhibit to the record.

                            iii.            Procedure Without Prior Court Approval:  Appointed counsel may incur investigative or expert expenses without prior approval of the court. On presentation of a claim for reimbursement, the court shall order reimbursement of counsel for the expenses, if the expenses are reasonably necessary and reasonably incurred. Unreasonable or unnecessary expenses will not be approved.

Miscellaneous
10/31/2019

A.  Appointment of Special Prosecutors, Attorneys Pro-Tem and Appointed Prosecutors office

    i.  If the court approves the appointment of a special prosecutor or an appointed prosecutors office in any criminal case, the appointment shall pay $75 (seventy-five) dollars per hour to the special prosecutor, attorney pro-tem or appointed prosecutors office.  The administrative District Judge may at his/her discretion approve expenses for these appointments and may include but are not limited to:  private investigators, expert witnesses, general expenses, etc.   A special prosecutor, Attorney Pro-Tem or appointed prosecutors office, should first obtain authorization from the administrative District Judge on any additional expenses that are necessary in the case that exceed $5,000 (five thousand dollars).  

   ii.  Special prosecutors, attorney pro-tem or an appointed prosecutors office shall submit their detailed bill of all hours and expenses incurred to the Administrative District Judge for approval of payment, after the disposition of the case.  The Administrative District Judge may review the bill and request further clarification or a more detailed bill if necessary.   


B.  Payment of Appointed Counsel and the Regional Public Defenders Office on Capital Cases

  i.  Due to the complexity of Capital Felony cases, payment to appointed Counsel or to the Regional Public Defender Office or other appointed prosecutor or appointed prosecutors office will be determined by the Administrative District Judge.  In all Capital Felony cases payments to appointed attorneys or the Regional Public Defenders office shall not be less than $75 per hour, plus reasonable and necessary expenses, if applicable.    


Plan Documents
Titus District and County Court Affidavit of Indigence.doc (10/25/2017 1:56:18 PM) view
Titus District and County Court Affidavit Submitted for Probable Cause Determination.pdf (10/5/2011 11:46:33 AM) view
Titus District and County Court Attorney Application for Appointment.pdf (10/13/2011 11:44:27 AM) view
Titus District and County Court Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (10/28/2013 4:19:58 PM) view
Titus District and County Court Attorney Fee Voucher.doc (10/5/2011 11:32:01 AM) view
Titus District and County Court Magistrates Warning Form.doc (12/3/2009 5:42:56 PM) view
Titus District and County Court Sworn Application For court Appointed Attorney.pdf (10/17/2011 4:47:45 PM) view