Harris County Court Plan
RULE 23. ALTERNATIVE PLAN FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL TO INDIGENT DEFENDANTS UNDER THE FAIR DEFENSE ACT
23.1.1. Alternative Plan means the Alternative Plan adopted by the Judges of the County Criminal Courts at Law of Harris County, Texas, on October 27, 2021.
23.1.2. Appointing authority means the Harris County Office of Managed Assigned Counsel.
23.1.3. Approved attorney means an attorney meeting the objective qualifications of this Plan, and approved by the Harris County Office of Managed Assigned Counsel.
23.1.4. Appointment manager means the person who implements appointment procedures.
23.1.5. A day means a single day on which an attorney is assigned to appear in a court.
23.1.6. Case means each cause number, or count in which a defendant is charged with a separate offense. See Office of Court Administration, Texas Judicial Counsel Monthly Report Instructions.
23.1.7. Contract means the agreement between an approved attorney and the Harris County Commissioners Court meeting the requirements established by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.
23.1.8. Contract Defender Program. Contract defender program means a system under which private attorneys, acting as independent contractors and compensated with public funds, are engaged to provide legal representation and services to a group of unspecified indigent defendants who appear before a particular court or group of courts.
23.1.9. Contracting Authority. The contracting authority is the Commissioners Court of Harris County, Texas.
23.1.10. Contractor. The contractor is an individual attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas, meeting the eligibility criteria in this Alternative Plan that can be bound by contract.
23.1.11. Criminal Law Hearing Officer means a judicial officer created by Chapter 54, Subchapter L of the Texas Government Code (§ 54.851 et seq.)
23.1.12. Designating Authority means the Judge of the Court, or if designated by this Indigent Defense Plan, the Judges’ Designee under Article 15.17 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or under Article 26.04(g) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Designating Authority decides whether a person is entitled to the appointment of counsel, and if so, whether the Public Defender’s Office will represent the person or whether the MAC Office will appoint counsel to represent the person.
23.1.13. Defendant means a person accused of a crime or juvenile offense, as those terms are defined by Section 71.001 of the Texas Government Code.
23.1.14. Disposed means:
184.108.40.206. entry of an order dismissing the case;
220.127.116.11. the defendant has been sentenced after a plea of guilty or no contest;
18.104.22.168. trial on the merits resulting in a verdict;
22.214.171.124. entry of an order granting community supervision;
126.96.36.199. a motion for new trial has been overruled;
188.8.131.52. submission of a brief on appeal;
184.108.40.206. granting or denial of an application for writ of habeas corpus or other extraordinary relief.
23.1.15. Fair Defense Act Management System (FDAMS)
23.1.16. First-chair counsel means the attorney in charge of the case.
23.1.17. He or him refers to a male or female.
23.1.18. Household means all individuals who are actually dependent on the defendant for financial support.
23.1.19. Indigent means a person who is not financially able to employ counsel. A person is presumed indigent if the total income derived by that person (and any of his dependents) is equal to or less than 125% of the United States Health and Human Services poverty guidelines applicable to that defendant’s family/household.
23.1.20. Itemized Fee Voucher. The itemized fee voucher shall be in electronic form promulgated by these courts and approved by the Harris County Auditor. It shall include at a minimum all the information necessary for the county auditor or other designated official to complete the expenditure report required to be submitted to the Office of Court Administration by Section 71.0351 (e), Government Code.
23.1.21. Judge means a Judge of a Harris County Criminal Court at Law.
23.1.22. Judicial Officer means a Judge of a Harris County Criminal Court at Law, or a Harris County Criminal Law Hearing Officer.
23.1.23. MAC Office means the Harris County Office of Managed Assigned Counsel.
23.1.24. Majority of judges means not less than nine of the duly elected and qualified judges of the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law.
23.1.25. Plan of Operation means the Plan of Operation adopted by the Harris County Office of Managed Assigned Counsel, described Article 26.047(c), Code of Criminal Procedure.
23.1.26. Probable cause means a reasonable ground, based upon the facts and circumstances, sufficient to warrant a prudent man to believe that the defendant has committed each element of the offense charged and the defendant is culpable, it being understood that if there is a sufficient defense established by testimony or documentation of the arresting agency, then there is no “probable cause”.
23.1.27. Public Defender means the Chief Public Defender of the Harris County Public Defender’s Office.
23.1.28. Second-chair counsel means an attorney who is appointed or attached to a case, but is not lead counsel in the case.
23.1.29. Taken before a magistrate means either physically bringing the defendant before the judicial officer in person or the image of the arrested person may be presented to the magistrate by means of an electronic broadcast system.as provided by TEX CODE CRIM. PROC. ART. 15.17(a).
23.1.30. 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.
23.1.31. Working day means Monday through Friday, except official federal, state, and county holidays.
Roberson v. Richardson, Civil Action No. H084-3659, United States District Court For The Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (1987).
23.2 PROMPT AND ACCURATE MAGISTRATE PROCEEDINGS.
23.2.1. DUTY OF ARRESTING OFFICER. The arresting officer, or the person having custody of the arrestee, shall ensure that every arrestee shall be brought before a judicial officer without unnecessary delay, but not later than 48 hours after the person is arrested.
220.127.116.11. Unless arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant, bench warrant, capias, or other order of a magistrate or judge, necessary forms establishing probable cause shall be completed and filed contemporaneous with the arrestee being booked into the Harris County Jail for any misdemeanor punishable by incarceration.
23.2.2. RELEASE OF CERTAIN DEFENDANTS ARRESTED WITHOUT WARRANT. 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 judicial officer has not determined that probable cause exists to believe that the person committed the offense for which the person is charged. If the person is unable to obtain a surety for the bond or unable to deposit money in an amount of the bond, the person must be released on personal bond.
23.2.3. POSTPONED RELEASE. If requested by the State of Texas, a judicial officer 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 ART. 17.033, TEX CODE CRIM. PROC. ARTS.
23.2.4. RECORD OF PROCEEDING. In each case in which a person arrested is taken before a judicial officer, any combination of an electronic recording, written form, or other documentation memorializing:
18.104.22.168. the judicial officer informing the defendant of the defendant’s right to request appointment of counsel;
22.214.171.124. the judicial officer asking the person whether the person wants to request the appointment of counsel;
126.96.36.199. instruction on how to request the appointment of counsel and
188.8.131.52. whether the person requested the appointment of counsel.
23.2.5. DEFENDANT BROUGHT BEFORE JUDICIAL OFFICER. The judicial officer shall determine if the defendant can speak and understand the English language, or if the defendant is deaf or hearing impaired.
23.2.6. INTERPRETER. If the person does not speak and understand the English language or is deaf, the judicial officer shall in an appropriate manner, and consistent with ARTS. 38.30, and 38.31, TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ARTS., communicate with the defendant using an interpreter.
184.108.40.206. TRANSLATE FORMS AND DOCUMENTS. Interpreters provided at County expense shall provide sight translation of court documents and correspondence associated with the case or proceeding.
23.2.7. THE HEARING. The judicial officer shall inform the defendant of the nature of the charge and of any affidavit, if available, filed therewith:
220.127.116.11. The officer shall admonish the defendant of: 18.104.22.168.1. the right to retain counsel;
22.214.171.124.1. the right to remain silent;
126.96.36.199.2. the right to have an attorney present during any interview with peace officers or attorneys representing the State of Texas;
188.8.131.52.3. the right to terminate an interview at any time;
184.108.40.206.4. the right not to make a statement and that any statement made by the defendant may be used against the defendant.
23.2.8. INFORMATION AND EXPLANATION OF THE RIGHT TO COUNSEL.
220.127.116.11. The judicial officer shall:
18.104.22.168.1. Inform the defendant of the right to appointed counsel if the person cannot afford counsel and the procedures for requesting appointment of counsel in the trial court;
22.214.171.124.2. Inquire as to whether the defendant is requesting that counsel be appointed;
126.96.36.199.3. Clearly note on the magistrate’s admonishment form, or Probable Cause for Further Detention form, the defendant’s choice viz: to request the appointment of counsel or not to request the appointment of counsel.
188.8.131.52. If the judicial officer has reason to believe the defendant is not mentally competent, the judicial officer shall enter a request for counsel on behalf of the defendant to alert the judge of the court in which the case is pending that counsel with the specialized skills necessary to represent mentally ill, or intellectually disabled should be appointed to the case.
23.2.9. DETERMINATION OF PROBABLE CAUSE FOR FURTHER DETENTION. In a case where the individual was arrested without an arrest warrant, bench warrant, or capias, or other order of a magistrate or judge, the judicial officer shall determine whether there is probable cause to believe the person committed the offense stated in the complaint.
23.2.10. SETTING BAIL. The judicial officer shall set the amount of bail and consider the defendant for release on a personal bond.
23.2.11. ARREST ON OUT-OF-COUNTY WARRANT. The judicial officer and district clerk shall follow the same procedure for a person arrested on one or more out-of-county warrants.
184.108.40.206. If the arrestee requests the appointment of counsel, the judicial officer shall ask the arrestee to complete an affidavit of indigence and financial statement, and shall ensure the arrestee has assistance in completing the forms.
220.127.116.11. The district clerk shall transmit the form to the county issuing the warrant within 24 hours of the request being made.
23.2.12. THE MAGISTRATE SHALL RECORD THE FOLLOWING:
18.104.22.168. The date and time the defendant was arrested and the date and time when the defendant was brought before the magistrate;
22.214.171.124. Whether the judicial officer informed the defendant of the right to request appointment of counsel, and the procedure for requesting counsel in the trial court; and
126.96.36.199. Whether the defendant requested appointment of counsel.
23.2.13. TIMELY TRANSMISSION OF FORMS TO THE TRIAL COURT. The District Clerk of Harris County, Texas, through a deputy district clerk, shall immediately transmit or cause to be transmitted the magistrate’s form or Probable Cause for Further Detention form to the judge of the court in which the case is pending for use the following business day to timely conduct an indigence hearing as requested by the defendant.
 Rule 5.2, Harris County Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plan for Court Proceedings required by 42 U.S.C. 2000d, et seq (2015).
Indigence Determination Standards
23.3. RIGHT TO APPOINTED COUNSEL.
23.3.1. A defendant found to be indigent as that term is used herein, and who requests appointed counsel has the right to counsel:
188.8.131.52. in any adversarial judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement;
184.108.40.206. in any criminal proceeding before the court if the judge concludes that the interests of justice require representation;
220.127.116.11. in a direct appeal to a court of appeals;
18.104.22.168. following arrest for violating a condition of community supervision; and
22.214.171.124. following arrest on an out-of-county warrant.
23.3.2. The judge of the court may also appoint counsel, in the interests of justice to a person appearing before the court, regardless of the person’s financial status.
23.4. DETERMINING INDIGENCE.
23.4.1. Procedures Used to Determine Indigence.
126.96.36.199. Indigence is determined by the judge of the court with dispositive jurisdiction. The judge may require the defendant to respond to questions about the defendant’s financial status, produce documentation supporting financial information provided, and/or order a court official to verify financial information provided.
188.8.131.52. A request by the appointing authority for additional information, documentation, and/or verification cannot delay appointment of counsel beyond the timelines specified in ART.1.051. TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC.
23.4.2. FINANCIAL STANDARD. For purposes of appointing counsel, a person is indigent if the person is not financially able to employ counsel. The standard shall apply to each defendant equally, regardless of whether the defendant is in custody or is released on bail.
23.4.3. FACTORS FOR DETERMINING INDIGENCE. A judge shall consider the following factors in determining whether a defendant is indigent:
184.108.40.206. defendant’s income,
220.127.116.11. source(s) of income,
18.104.22.168. assets and property owned, or in which the defendant has an interest,
22.214.171.124. outstanding obligations,
126.96.36.199. necessary expenses,
188.8.131.52. the number and ages of dependents, and
184.108.40.206. spousal income that is available to the defendant.
220.127.116.11. The defendant is presumed to be indigent if his 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.
18.104.22.168. A defendant determined to be indigent is presumed to remain indigent for the remainder of the case unless a material change in the defendant’s financial circumstances occurs.
23.4.5. USE OF INFORMATION LIMITED. Information gathered for determining indigence, both in the affidavit of indigence and through oral examination, may not be used for any purpose other than:
22.214.171.124. Determining if defendant is (or is not) indigent; or
126.96.36.199. Impeaching direct testimony of defendant regarding the defendant’s indigence.
23.4.6. REVIEW. A defendant’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 defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or the attorney representing the state.
188.8.131.52. The defendant’s indigent status will be presumed not to have changed. The presumption can be rebutted in the review proceedings based on the following:
184.108.40.206. Evidence of a material change in the defendant’s financial circumstances, as a result of which the defendant does not meet any of the standards for indigence contained in these rules; or
220.127.116.11. Additional information regarding the defendant’s financial circumstances that shows that the defendant does not meet any of the standards for indigence contained in these rules.
18.104.22.168. If a defendant 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.
22.214.171.124. 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.
Minimum Attorney Qualifications
23.5. Establishing Minimum Attorney Qualifications.
23.5.1. The MAC Office is responsible for determining the minimum qualifications of attorneys accepting appointed clients. The qualifications shall be specified in the Plan of Operation.
23.5.2. SPECIALTY COURT PROGRAMS, PUBLIC DEFENDER, DEFENSE SPECIALISTS. These categories provide opportunities for lawyers to diversify their practices, to control the size of their caseloads, to choose the types of cases they handle, and to have access to adequate resources to properly defend their clients.
126.96.36.199. SPECIAL MENTAL HEALTH CASELOAD. An assistant Harris County Public Defender with significant previous experience and specialized training in representing mentally ill and intellectually disabled persons charged with a criminal offense, shall represent a defendant:
188.8.131.52.1. Identified by an algorithm composed of data approved by the judges covered by this Alternative Plan in consultation with the chief public defender, indicating a likelihood that mental illness and/or intellectual disability is/are a factor in the defendant’s arrest;
184.108.40.206.2. Arrested at least three times during the twelve months prior to the current arrest, with a medical and social history suggesting that court ordered step- down therapy may reduce the probability of future arrests; or,
220.127.116.11.3. Following a finding by a court that the defendant is incompetent.
18.104.22.168. MENTAL HEALTH DEFENSE SPECIALIST. Represents a defendant identified using the mental health algorithm; a defendant found incompetent; or a defendant manifesting signs of mental illness when the Public Defender’s Office reaches its daily or annual case load cap. The attorney must satisfy any requirements described in the Plan of Operation.
22.214.171.124. APPEALS AND HABEAS CORPUS. The Harris County Public Defender shall represent all persons appealing a judgment or order of these courts, unless that person is represented by a qualified attorney appointed through the MAC Office who is permitted to represent the person on appeal or if the Harris County Public Defender has a conflict of interest. An attorney appointed by the MAC Office must satisfy any requirements described in the Plan of Operation.
126.96.36.199. BILINGUAL ATTORNEY. Represents a defendant who does not speak or understand the English language. The attorney must satisfy any requirements described in the Plan of Operation.
188.8.131.52. FUGITIVE DEFENSE SPECIALIST. Represents a person who has been arrested in Harris County, Texas on a warrant from another state or another county in Texas. The attorney must satisfy any requirements described in the Plan of Operation.
184.108.40.206. S.O.B.E.R COURT PROGRAM ATTORNEY. Represents a defendant in the S.O.B.E.R Court Specialty program for persons convicted of driving while intoxicated. The attorney must satisfy any requirements described in the Plan of Operation.
220.127.116.11. VETERANS COURT PROGRAM ATTORNEY. Represents a Veteran or current member of the United States armed forces, including a member of the Reserves, National Guard or State Guard, who has been accepted into Veterans Court Program. The attorney must satisfy any requirements described in the Plan of Operation.
18.104.22.168. PROJECT SECOND CHANCE COURT PROGRAM ATTORNEY. Represents a defendant who is charged with prostitution, from the age of 17 years of age through the age of 25 years of age who has been accepted into the Project Second Chance Court program. The attorney must satisfy any requirements described in the Plan of Operation.
22.214.171.124.1. DEAF OR HEARING IMPAIRED. Represents a defendant who is deaf, or severely hearing impaired. The attorney must satisfy any requirements described in the Plan of Operation.
23.6. APPROVAL OF QUALIFIED ATTORNEYS.
23.6.1. The MAC Office shall designate the process for approving attorneys qualified for inclusion on the public appointment list in the Plan of Operation
23.7. VOLUNTARY AND INVOLUNTARY REMOVAL OF APPROVED ATTORNEY FROM THE LIST OF ELIGIBLE ATTORNEYS AND APPEAL.
23.7.1. The MAC Office shall designate the process for the voluntary and involuntary removal of attorneys in the Plan of Operation.
23.7.2. REINSTATEMENT. If eligible for reinstatement, an attorney may request reinstatement by following the application process outlined in the Plan of Operation.
23.7.3. APPEAL. An attorney removed from the appointment list maintained by the MAC Office may appeal the removal by appealing the MAC Office’s decision in writing, as specified in the Plan of Operation.
23.8. REPLACEMENT OF APPROVED COUNSEL FROM A CASE OR CASES.
126.96.36.199. The MAC Office shall set forth expectations regarding the duration and continuation of the appointment of counsel in the Plan of Operation.
23.8.2. On Appeal
188.8.131.52. If, at the conclusion of a trial, the indigent client desires to prosecute a direct appeal and requests the appointment of different counsel, the Court may appoint counsel pursuant to this Alternative Plan
Prompt Appointment of Counsel
23.9. APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL.
23.9.1. The designating authority is the judge of the court in which the defendant’s case is filed, or the courts’ designee. The designating authority designates whether the case is appointed to the public defender’s office or whether the MAC Office will appoint counsel.
23.9.2. PERSONS BOOKED INTO THE COUNTY JAIL. The designating authority shall designate either the public defender’s office to represent or the MAC office to appoint counsel as soon as possible, but not later than the end of the first working day after the date on which the court or the courts’ designee receives the defendant’s request for appointment of counsel.
23.9.3. PERSON RELEASED ON BOND PRIOR TO BOOKING IN THE COUNTY JAIL. A defendant released on bail before being booked into the Harris County Jail shall appear the 7th day following release (or the next business day following the 7th day if the 7th day is not a business day). Prior to conducting an arraignment proceeding, the judge shall perform the duties required under Article 15.17 and shall designate either the public defender’s office to represent or the MAC office to appoint counsel if the defendant requests, and is entitled to, appointed counsel or if the interests of justice require the appointment of counsel.
23.9.4. PERSON ARRESTED IN ANOTHER COUNTY ON A HARRIS COUNTY WARRANT. Within 24 hours of receiving notice of a defendant’s arrest in another county, the judge of the court that issued the arrest process shall designate either the public defender’s office to represent or the MAC office to appoint counsel for the defendant.
23.9.5. PERSON ARRESTED ON OUT-OF-COUNTY WARRANT IN HARRIS COUNTY. A person arrested on an out-of-county warrant must be appointed counsel on the 11th day following the date the defendant was booked into the Harris County Jail if the person has not been transferred or released to the custody of the county issuing the warrant.
23.9.6. OBTAINING REQUEST FOR APPOINTED COUNSEL FORM. The form used to request appointment of counsel and the financial affidavit in support of the request are available to defendants and interested third parties by requesting same from the court coordinator in any county criminal court at law.
23.9.7. FILING THE FORM. The completed forms shall be filed with the deputy district clerk in the court where the case is pending.
23.10. DUTY OF APPOINTED COUNSEL.
23.10.1. Attorneys accepting appointments through the MAC Office are expected to abide by the expectations set forth in the Plan of Operation.
23.10.2. FIRST AND SECOND CHAIR COUNSEL. The MAC Office may appoint First and Second Chair Counsel as designated in the Plan of Operation
184.108.40.206. FIRST-CHAIR COUNSEL
220.127.116.11.1. All motions filed in the case shall be filed in the name of first-chair counsel.
18.104.22.168.2. First-chair counsel shall appear on all matters before the Court and speak for the defendant.
22.214.171.124. First-chair counsel may assign tasks to second-chair counsel on behalf of the defendant.
23.10.3. SECOND-CHAIR COUNSEL
126.96.36.199. Under the direction and in the presence of lead counsel, second-chair counsel may prepare, present, or argue motions, examine witnesses, and participate in a hearing or trial.
188.8.131.52. Second-chair counsel shall complete and file an attorney of record form with the district clerk. The form shall state on its face that the attorney is second-chair counsel.
184.108.40.206. Second-chair counsel is only entitled to be compensated if appointed by the MAC Office pursuant to the Plan of Operation.
220.127.116.11. Second-chair counsel shall be present for the entire trial.
23.10.4. SUBSTITUTION BY APPOINTED COUNSEL PROHIBITED. Only with approval of the judge presiding, may an attorney send another attorney not designated as counsel in the case to appear on the attorney’s behalf. If agreed to by the judge in the court where the case is pending, the attorney making the appearance must be eligible for appointment to represent an indigent defendant in these courts. The attorney shall not be entitled to compensation for his appearance.
Attorney Selection Process
23.11. THE FAIR, NEUTRAL AND NONDISCRIMINATORY ATTORNEY SELECTION PROCESS.
23.11.1. Each assignment shall be in accordance with Article 26.047, Code of Criminal Procedure. The public defender’s office shall have priority in appointments in criminal proceedings. If the Public Defender’s Office is not eligible for the appointment, each assignment shall be impartially distributed by the MAC Office among the list of attorneys eligible as designated in the Plan of Operation.
23.11.2. ATTORNEY CATEGORIES. The MAC Office shall set forth the different categories of appointments in the Plan of Operation and shall designate each attorney as eligible or ineligible to receive those categories of appointments.
23.11.3. Investigator Categories. The MAC Office shall set forth the different categories of investigative assignments in the Plan of Operation and shall designate each attorney as eligible or ineligible to receive those categories of appointments.
23.11.4. ASSIGNMENT TYPE. The MAC Office shall determine how cases are assigned to lawyers and designate the method and type of assignment in the Plan of Operation.
23.11.5. ANNUAL CASELOAD LIMITS. The MAC Office shall designate the annual caseload limits, the method of calculating the caseload limits, and policy for ensuring the limits are not exceeded in the Plan of Operation.
23.11.6. DAILY CASELOAD LIMITS. The MAC Office shall designate daily caseload limits in the Plan of Operation.
Fee and Expense Payment Process
23.12. FEE AND EXPENSE PAYMENT PROCESS.
23.12.1. FEE SCHEDULE. Appointed counsel shall be compensated for all time reasonably necessary to adequately represent the defendant according to the following fee schedule, and as set forth in his or her contract for indigent defense services with Harris County, Texas.
23.12.2. Base Hourly Rate.
18.104.22.168.1. In-court hours not otherwise described in this section —$100/hr.
22.214.171.124.2. Out-of-court —$100/hr.
126.96.36.199.3. Appeals and post-trial writs—$100/hr.
188.8.131.52.4. Out of court (mental health caseload) — $140/hr.
184.108.40.206.5. Hearings with sworn oral testimony — $140/hr.
220.127.116.11.6. Trial (includes competency or sanity) — $140/hr.
18.104.22.168.7. Oral argument and post-trial writ hearings — $140/hr.
22.214.171.124.8. Mental Health Defense Specialist — $140/hr.
126.96.36.199.9. Specialty court — $175/hr.
23.12.3. Hourly rates shall be paid for performing the appropriate statutory services defined in TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 26.05(a), based on the time and labor required, the complexity of the case, and the experience and ability of the appointed counsel.
23.12.4. Per-Case Fee. Appointed counsel shall be compensated for each case assigned to the attorney, unless the attorney withdraws on or before the first court setting after appointment of counsel in the case.
188.8.131.52. Per appointment fee—$100/case.
184.108.40.206. Per appointment fee for bilingual attorneys —$125/case.
23.12.5. Daily Minimum on Intake Days. On days the attorney participates in case intake as scheduled by the MAC Office, the attorney may receive the following daily minimum in lieu of Per-Case Fees if the total Per-Case Fee for that attorney on that day is less than the daily minimum.
220.127.116.11. Requirements. To receive the daily rate for participating in an intake day, an attorney shall.:
18.104.22.168.1. physically appear for docket call at the time and place designated by the judge of the assigned court unless physical presence is not required by the assigned court;
22.214.171.124.2. accept appointments in that court or any other county court to which the attorney may be assigned on that day;
126.96.36.199.4. remain available to the judges of the County Criminal Courts at Law until the courts’ morning docket call is concluded, or the attorney is released by the judge of the court to which the lawyer is assigned; and
188.8.131.52.5. provide professional services, including the resetting of cases, first to appointed cases in the County Criminal Courts at Law.
23.12.6. DAILY MINIMUM FEE SCHEDULE
184.108.40.206. Daily minimum fee each intake day, attorneys who speak only English —$250/day.
220.127.116.11. Daily minimum fee for each intake day, bilingual attorneys—$300/day.
23.12.7. Investigators – Investigators approved by the MAC Office shall be paid an hourly rate based on whether they speak only English or whether they are bilingual.
18.104.22.168. Hourly rate, investigators who speak only English— $80/hr:
22.214.171.124. Hourly rate, bilingual investigators—$84/hr.
23.12.8. Non-Specific Vouchers: When attorneys or investigators are entitled to payment for small amounts of work performed in many cases, the attorney or investigator may submit a non-specific voucher.
126.96.36.199.1. The Attorney may submit a non-specific voucher listing all the cases involved within the voucher and cannot claim any of the activities listed in the non-specific voucher elsewhere.
188.8.131.52.2. The non-specific voucher must indicate the nature of the activity performed and the voucher must be for an activity permitted under the fee structure.
184.108.40.206.3. Each activity listed in the non-specific voucher should average less than 10 minutes.
220.127.116.11.4. The non-specific voucher must list at least two different cases.
18.104.22.168.5. The total time claimed on a non-specific voucher should equal the amount of time spent on all the cases, but the total amount claimed on a non-specific voucher for a single day cannot exceed two (2) hours.
23.12.9. Examples: These examples are not meant to be exhaustive but indicate the types of tasks for which it may be appropriate to submit a non-specific voucher.
22.214.171.124. An Attorney may wish to submit a non-specific voucher claiming in-court hours when the Attorney resets multiple cases still needing discovery from the prosecutor.
126.96.36.199. An investigator may wish to submit a non-specific voucher claiming time spent performing a records request when picking up records for several cases from a single agency.
188.8.131.52. An Attorney or Investigator may wish to submit a non-specific voucher claiming client contact when the Attorney/Investigator send out initial new-client letters.
23.12.10. Cost of Living Adjustments
184.108.40.206. When Harris County awards departments a cost-of-living adjustment, all fees listed in this section shall be adjusted by the cost of living adjustment.
220.127.116.11. Reasonable and Necessary Expenses
18.104.22.168.1. The County will reimburse appointed attorneys for reasonable and necessary expenses including investigation and mental health and expert witnesses incurred on behalf of an indigent client with and without prior approval as provided by TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. arts. 26.05(d) and 26.052(f), (g), and (h).
23.12.12. Out-of-county travel expenses will be reimbursed with prior approval, using county rates and policies.
23.12.13. Counsel shall submit the original invoice or receipt, along with any request for reimbursement.
23.12.14. ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION.
22.214.171.124. An attorney appointed to represent an indigent defendant shall not accept additional compensation for professional services performed on behalf of the defendant, as a result of the appointment, in any form from any source other than Harris County, Texas.
126.96.36.199. A de minimis token of appreciation from a client shall not be deemed “additional compensation.”
23.12.15. Managed Assigned Counsel Determination of Attorney Compensation.
188.8.131.52. In consultation with other County departments responsible for paying attorneys’ claims, MAC Office shall designate the procedure for attorney compensation in the Plan of Operation.
23.13. PAYMENT BY COUNTY AUDITOR.
184.108.40.206. The Harris County Auditor shall only pay a claim submitted by an attorney whose name appears on the list of approved attorneys assigned to participate in intake during term or date assigned by FDAMS or who is individually appointed to a client’s case. The MAC Office shall provide the County Auditor’s Office with a current list of attorneys certified to accept appointments. The Auditor shall send a claim submitted by an attorney who is not on the list of certified attorneys to the Executive Director of the MAC Office.
220.127.116.11. REASONABLE AND NECESSARY EXPENSES. The County will reimburse appointed attorneys for reasonable and necessary expenses, including investigation and mental health and expert witnesses, incurred on behalf of an indigent client as provided under TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. arts. 26.05(d) and 26.052(f), (g), and (h).
18.104.22.168. ORIGINAL INVOICE OR RECEIPT. Counsel shall submit the original invoice or receipt along with any request for reimbursement.
23.14. SYSTEM PERSON NUMBER (SPN).
23.14.1. To ensure accuracy in the tracking and reporting of fees paid to attorneys and others under this Alternative Plan, the Auditor shall amend the current attorney fee voucher to include a space for the Justice Information Management System Person Number of the individual seeking payment of county funds.
See TEX. ADMIN C. TITLE 1, PART 8, SUBCHAPTER B §§174.10 et seq.
23.15. CONTRACT DEFENDER PROGRAM.
23.15.1. In all term assignments the appointing authority shall follow the Texas Indigent Defense Commission Contract Defender Program Rules, as published in The Texas Administrative Code, Title I, Part 8, Chapter 174 sub chapter B, Part II, as setout below:
II. APPLICATION OF STANDARDS AND CONTRACTING PROCEDURES
§174.11. Application of Subchapter. This Subchapter applies to all contract defender programs. This Subchapter does not apply to public defender programs established and governed by Chapter 26, Code of Criminal Procedure.
§174.12. Application Process. The appointing authority shall solicit and select contractors in accordance with the procedure governing alternative appointment programs contained in Article 26.04, Code of Criminal Procedure.
Notification. The notification of the opportunity to apply (NOA) to be a contractor shall be distributed in a manner that reasonably covers all practicing members of the bar within the county or other region designated by the appointing authority. The notification shall inform attorneys of all requirements for submitting applications.
Opportunity to Respond. All potential contractors shall have the same opportunity to respond to the NOA and be considered for the award of a contract.
Application. All applications must be submitted in writing and shall be maintained by the appointing authority or contracting authority in accordance with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission Retention Schedule for Local Records- Local Schedule GR.
§174.13. Application Review Process. Following the review of all applications the appointing authority shall by a majority vote select contractor(s), specify the types of cases each contractor is qualified to handle, and authorize the contracting authority to enter into a contract. The attorneys associated with the selected contractor(s) must meet the attorney qualification requirements contained in the indigent defense procedures adopted pursuant to Article 26.04, Code of Criminal Procedure. If the contract does not exclude capital cases in which the death penalty is sought, the attorneys associated with the selected contractor(s) must also meet the attorney qualifications set by the regional selection committee and be approved by the regional selection committee to represent clients in capital cases. The appointing authority shall consider at least the following factors when evaluating applications:
(a)Experience and qualifications of the applicant;
(b)Applicant’s past performance in representing defendants in criminal cases;
(c)Applicant’s disciplinary history with the state bar;
(d) Applicant’s ability to comply with the terms of the contract; and
(e) Cost of the services under the contract.
§174.14. Awarding the Contract. In accordance with Article 26.04(h), Code of Criminal Procedure, the contracting authority may approve the recommended contractor(s) and enter into a contract for services. The contracting authority shall enter into a contract only if it complies with these standards and all applicable law governing professional services contracts entered into by counties. A contract shall not be awarded solely on the basis of cost.
23.16. TRANSITION PLAN
23.16.1. The MAC Office shall designate a transition plan within the Plan of Operation. If the MAC Office cannot implement changes needed to fully execute the Plan of Operation, it may operate under the Alternative Plan for Appointment of Counsel approved on April 9, 2021 in a manner it deems consistent with its requirements until the requisite changes are made.
23.16.2. Any changes to the Fee and Expense Payment Process shall be implemented as soon as practicable after making any necessary changes and related software and obtaining approval from County officials but shall be implemented no later than 6 months from the approval of these Local Rules. Until the required approvals are obtained, changes are implemented, and the changes are officially announced to the defense bar, payment will continue to operate in the manner approved on April 9, 2021.
Harris County Court Affidavit of Indigence.pdf (10/24/2017 2:53:04 PM) view
Harris County Court Attorney Application Duties Acknowledgement.doc (12/5/2009 2:12:36 PM) view
Harris County Court Attorney Application for Appointment.docx (3/28/2016 2:52:04 PM) view
Harris County Court Attorney Education Affidavit.pdf (11/20/2014 10:24:50 AM) view
Harris County Court Attorney Fee Voucher.pdf (11/13/2015 12:32:47 PM) view
Harris County Court Combined Request (Part 2).pdf (12/5/2009 2:11:38 PM) view
Harris County Court Combined Request For Counsel, Affidavit of Indigence & Waiver of Counsel.pdf (12/5/2009 2:09:15 PM) view
Harris County Court Duties Acknowledgement .doc (3/28/2016 2:53:10 PM) view
Harris County Court Magistrates Warning Form.pdf (12/7/2009 7:03:03 AM) view
Harris County Court Public Defender Plan or Proposal.pdf (1/13/2014 10:21:59 AM) view