Collin District Court Plan
FAIR DEFENSE PLAN FOR COLLIN COUNTY DISTRICT COURTS
LOCAL RULES ADOPTING STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF
COUNSEL TO REPRESENT INDIGENT DEFENDANTS UNDER FELONY ACCUSATION
The district judges presiding over criminal cases in Collin County, Texas (hereinafter
“district judges”) are committed to providing legal representation to indigent persons under
felony accusation in a timely manner; to ensuring fair, neutral, and non-discriminatory
procedures for attorney selection; and to establishing minimum competency standards for
court-appointed attorneys. The district judges are also committed to good stewardship of the
public funds expended for indigent defense services.
In accordance with the requirements of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Arts. 1.051,
26.04, 26.047, 26.05, and 26.052, the district judges adopt this Fair Defense Plan for Collin
County District Courts (“Plan”).
The district judges expect that attorneys appointed to represent indigent defendants
will continuously adhere to all provisions of this Plan.
This Plan supersedes all other plans and standards previously promulgated by the
PROMPT AND ACCURATE MAGISTRATION
"Videoconference" means a two-way electronic communication of image and
sound and includes secure internet videoconferencing.
“Qualified telephone interpreter” means a telephone service that employs a
licensed court interpreter or a federally certified court interpreter.
"Licensed court interpreter" means an individual licensed under Chapter 157,
Gov. Code, by the Judicial Branch Certification Commission to interpret court
proceedings for individuals who can hear but have no or limited English proficiency.
B. Duties of Arresting Officer
The person making an arrest or having custody of an arrested person shall take
the arrested person or have the person taken before a magistrate as soon as possible,
but no later than 48 hours after the person is arrested.
The arrested person may be taken before the magistrate in person or by means
C. Record to be Made
The magistrate shall cause a record to be made of the proceeding, including all
communications between the magistrate and the arrested person. The record shall be
preserved until the date the pretrial hearing ends or 120 days after the record is made,
whichever is earlier.
If it appears that an arrested person cannot understand, speak, read, or write
the English language, the magistrate shall appoint an interpreter. If the only interpreter
available does not have adequate skills to interpret for the accused, the accused may
nominate another person to act as an intermediary between the accused and the
interpreter. If no intermediary is available, or if no qualified interpreter is available to
appear in person, a qualified telephone interpreter may be used.
If it appears that an arrested person is deaf, the magistrate shall appoint a
qualified interpreter to interpret the proceedings in any language that the person can
understand, including but not limited to sign language. The magistrate may order the
testimony of an accused deaf person and the interpretation of that testimony to be
E. Rights and Warnings
The magistrate shall, for each arrested person, inform the arrested person in
clear language of:
1. The accusation against him or her and of any affidavit(s) on file;
2. The right to retain counsel;
3. The right to remain silent and that any statement made by the accused may
be used against him or her;
4. The right to have an attorney present during any interview with a peace
officer or attorney representing the state;
5. The right to terminate an interview at any time;
6. The right to an examining trial; and
7. The right to have counsel appointed if the accused cannot afford counsel.
If an accused is represented by counsel, the magistrate shall allow the accused
reasonable time and opportunity to consult with counsel.
F. Request for Appointment of Counsel
The magistrate shall:
1. Provide an arrested person with the procedures for requesting appointment
2. Ask the arrested person if he or she is requesting that counsel be appointed;
3. If counsel is requested, provide the accused with the necessary forms for
requesting appointment of counsel;
4. If counsel is requested, ensure that reasonable assistance in completing the
forms is provided to the accused at the time of the request; and
5. If counsel is requested, transmit or cause to be transmitted any forms
requesting the appointment of counsel to the Indigent Defense office no
later than 24 hours after the request is made.
If there is reason to believe that the accused lacks the present ability to request
counsel or complete the necessary forms because of incompetency or other mental
impairment, the arrested person shall be referred to the Mental Health Managed
Assigned Counsel (“MHMC”) program for the appointment of counsel.
G. Filing of Forms
If a request for counsel is made, the magistrate form and any forms requesting
the appointment of counsel shall be given to the district clerk to be filed. If a request for
counsel is not made, the magistrate form shall be given to the district clerk to be filed.
H. Probable Cause Finding
The magistrate shall determine if there is probable cause to believe that the
arrested person committed an offense. The magistrate shall also ensure that any
documents establishing probable cause are completed and filed at the time the arrestee
is booked into jail, unless the arrest was made pursuant to an arrest warrant, bench
warrant, capias, or other written order.
A person arrested without a warrant must be released on a bond of $10,000.00
or less no later than 48 hours after the arrest if the magistrate has not made a finding of
probable cause. If the person is not able to obtain a surety or post the bond with cash,
the person shall be released on a personal bond. Upon written application by the state
pursuant to Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter “CCP”) Art. 17.033(c), the
magistrate may postpone the release of the person for no more than 72 hours.
The magistrate shall set the amount and conditions of bail if bail has not already
been set. If bail has already been set and the magistrate, after receiving information not
provided to the judge or magistrate who set the previous bail, finds that a personal
bond should be granted or a lower amount of bail set, the magistrate may grant a
personal bond or set bail at a lower amount.
J. Out-of-County Warrants
If a person is arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by a county other than Collin
County, the magistrate shall ask the accused if appointed counsel is being requested.
The magistrate shall record the response, and if counsel is requested, the magistrate
shall provide the person with the appropriate forms for requesting counsel and provide
reasonable assistance in completing the forms. The forms shall be transmitted to the
appointing authority in the issuing county within 24 hours of the request being made.
If the issuing county has not taken custody of the person before the 11th day
following the date of arrest, the magistrate shall release the person on a personal bond
and forward the personal bond to the sheriff of the issuing county or the court that
issued the warrant.
K. Written Record to be Made
The magistrate shall make a written record that includes:
1. The date and time the accused was arrested, and the date and time the
accused was brought before the magistrate;
2. Confirmation that the magistrate informed the accused of the right to
request the appointment of counsel;
3. Confirmation that the magistrate asked the accused if the accused was
requesting the appointment of counsel; and
4. Confirmation that the accused requested, or did not request, the
appointment of counsel.
The magistrate shall cause the written record to be placed into the case file by
the district clerk.
Indigence Determination Standards
“Indigent” means financially unable to hire private counsel.
“Net household income” means all income of the accused and spousal income
actually available to the accused. Income includes:
1. Take-home wages and salary (gross income earned less any deductions
required by law or as a condition of employment);
2. Net self-employment income (gross income minus business expenses and
any deductions required by law or as a condition of operating the business);
3. Regular payments from a government income maintenance program,
alimony, child support, public or private pensions, or annuities; and
4. Income from dividends, interest, rents, royalties, or periodic receipts from
estates or trusts.
Seasonal or temporary income will be considered on an annualized basis,
averaged together with periods for which the accused has no or less income.
“Non-exempt assets and property” means cash on hand, stocks and bonds, and
accounts at financial institutions.
“Household” means all individuals who are actually dependent on the accused
for financial support.
“Costs of obtaining competent private legal representation” include the
reasonable costs of support services such as investigators and expert witnesses which
are necessary and appropriate given the circumstances of the case.
The financial standards below shall be used to determine whether an accused is
indigent and shall be applied equally to every accused person.
An accused is presumed indigent if any of the following circumstances are
1. The accused or the 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 United
States Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines;
3. The accused is currently serving a sentence in a correctional institution,
residing in a public mental health facility, or subject to a proceeding in which
admission or commitment to a mental health facility is sought; or
4. The accused has been incarcerated for more than 14 days.
If an accused does not meet any of the standards above, he or she shall still be
considered indigent if the accused is unable to retain private counsel without
substantial hardship to the accused or the accused’s dependents. When determining
whether substantial hardship would result from hiring private counsel, the appointing
authority shall consider the:
1. Nature of the criminal charge(s);
2. Anticipated complexity of any defense;
3. Estimated costs of obtaining competent private legal representation;
4. Amount needed to support the accused and the accused’s dependents;
5. Accused’s income, any spousal income available to the accused, and the
sources of income;
6. Assets and property owned by the accused;
7. Accused’s necessary expenses and outstanding obligations; and
8. Number and ages of dependents.
C. Factors NOT to be Considered
The appointing authority shall not consider the following when determining
whether an accused is indigent:
1. The accused’s posting of bail or ability to post bail.
2. The resources available to friends or relatives (other than the accused’s
D. Sources of Information
The appointing authority may require the accused to respond to questions about
the accused’s finances and to produce supporting documentation. The authority may
also request verification from other sources.
Information gathered for the purpose of determining indigence, whether from
an affidavit or through testimony, may not be used except to:
1. Determine whether the accused is indigent or not; and
2. Impeach the direct testimony of the accused regarding the accused’s
A request by the appointing authority for additional information,
documentation, or verification shall not delay the appointment of counsel beyond the
timelines established by this Plan.
E. Review of Status
An accused found to be indigent is presumed to remain indigent for the
remainder of the case unless there is a material change in the accused’s financial
circumstances. An accused’s status may be reviewed in a formal hearing at any stage of
a court proceeding on a motion for reconsideration by the accused or by the state. A
presumption of indigence can be rebutted with evidence of a material change in the
accused’s financial circumstances which establishes that the accused no longer meets
any standard of indigence.
If an accused previously determined to be indigent is subsequently determined
to be not indigent, appointed counsel shall be compensated under the terms of this Plan
for services reasonably rendered.
If a court determines that an accused has sufficient financial resources to
partially or completely offset the costs of legal services provided, the court may order
the defendant to pay said amount as costs of court.
F. Review When Accused is in Jail
An unrepresented person who has been in custody for 14 days following a
finding that he or she is not indigent shall be presumed indigent and have his or her
Minimum Attorney Qualifications
A. Application Review and Approval
Applications for placement on the MHMC felony list will be reviewed and
decided by the MHMC director. The MHMC list is comprised of a limited number of
attorneys. Placement on the list will be determined by the MHMC director based on the
needs of the MHMC program, attorney qualifications, and attorney performance.
Applications for all other felony lists will be reviewed by the district judges and
decided by majority vote.
Applications must be submitted during one of two periods each calendar year:
July 1 through July 14; and December 1 through December 31.
The district judges and MHMC director reserve the authority to limit the number
of attorneys on the appointment lists as necessary to ensure the effective
representation of indigent defendants, to maintain the integrity of the lists and
appointment process, and to comply with legal and ethical standards governing the
provision of indigent defense services.
B. Qualifications and Eligibility
The minimum standards for placement on a felony appointment list include the
An attorney must:
1. Provide accurate and complete information on his or her application;
2. Be a licensed practicing attorney and member in good standing of the State
Bar of Texas;
3. Have at least two (2) years of experience practicing criminal law;
4. Be a resident of Collin County, maintain a principal office in Collin County, or
have at least 80 percent of the attorney’s practice in Collin County;
5. Be certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; OR
complete a minimum of ten (10) hours of continuing legal education (“CLE”)
in the area of criminal law each year. New applicants must have completed
at least ten (10) hours of CLE in the calendar year preceding the submission
of their application. An attorney must file a certificate with the Indigent
Defense Office each year attesting to completion of required CLE. CLE
completed during any reporting period in excess of the minimum may be
applied to the following period’s requirement. The carryover provision
applies to one year only;
6. Submit on or before October 15th of each year a statement describing the
percentage of the attorney's practice time in connection with Collin County
appointments for adult criminal and juvenile delinquency cases for the prior
twelve (12) months (October 1–September 30). The report must be
submitted electronically using the Texas Indigent Defense Commission
7. Not have been the recipient of a 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 five (5) years;
8. Maintain an office capable of sending and receiving email, fax, and voice
9. Have the means to produce typed motions and orders;
10. Notify the local administrative district judge promptly, in writing, of any
matter that would disqualify the attorney by law, regulation, rule, or this Plan
from receiving appointments to represent indigent defendants; and
11. Provide three (3) letters of reference from members of the Collin County Bar
Association or Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association;
Additional eligibility requirements for each graduated list are described below.
Attorneys may apply for and be placed on more than one list.
1. State Jail and Third Degree Felonies
An attorney must:
a. Be certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; OR
have experience as lead counsel in at least four (4) criminal cases tried to
verdict before a jury. The styles and cause numbers of each case must be
included in the application.
2. Second and First Degree Felonies
An attorney must:
a. Have at least four (4) years of experience practicing criminal law; and
b. Be certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; OR
have experience as lead counsel in at least eight (8) cases tried to verdict
before a jury, at least four (4) of which were felonies. The styles and
cause numbers of each case must be included in the application.
3. Crimes Against Children (“CAC”)
An attorney must:
a. Have at least five (5) years of experience practicing criminal law;
b. Have at least three (3) years of experience handling CAC cases;
c. Have at least eight (8) hours of CLE in sex crimes; and
d. Be certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; OR
have experience as lead counsel in at least six (6) felony cases tried to
verdict before a jury, and experience as lead counsel in at least six (6)
trials of CAC cases tried to verdict before a jury. The styles and cause
numbers of each case must be included in the application.
4. Capital Cases
a. Within 24 hours of arrest, the local administrative district judge shall
appoint lead counsel from the list of attorneys approved by the local
selection committee of the First Administrative Judicial Region for
appointment as lead counsel in death penalty cases pursuant to the
requirements of CCP Art. 26.052(e).
b. Upon indictment, the presiding district judge shall promptly appoint
second-chair counsel, unless the state gives notice in writing that that the
state will not seek the death penalty. In a non-death penalty case, the
presiding judge may appoint second-chair counsel at his or her discretion.
c. Second chair counsel shall be appointed from the list of attorneys
approved by the local selection committee of the First Administrative
Judicial Region for appointment as lead counsel or second-chair counsel
in death penalty cases.
d. Appellate counsel shall be appointed from the list of attorneys approved
by the local selection committee of the First Administrative Judicial
Region for appointment as appellate counsel in death penalty cases.
5. Appeals and Non-Capital Writs
An attorney must:
a. Be certified in criminal law or criminal appellate law by the Texas Board
of Legal Specialization;
b. Have personally authored and filed at least three (3) criminal appellate
briefs or post-conviction writs of habeas corpus;
c. Have submitted an appellate writing sample approved by a majority of
the district judges; or
d. Have worked as a briefing clerk of an appellate court of record for at least
one (1) year.
6. MHMC Cases
An attorney must:
a. Be approved for the corresponding felony list;
b. Have served as a prosecutor in a county or district attorney’s office for at
least two (2) years or have practiced criminal defense law on a regular
basis for a minimum of two (2) years;
c. An attorney must be certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal
Specialization OR have experience as lead counsel in at least eight (8)
cases tried to verdict before a jury;
d. Have been lead counsel in at least three (3) mental health cases, in all of
which at least one of the following issues was presented: competency,
sanity, or court-ordered mental health treatment. The styles and cause
numbers of each case must be included in the application;
e. Complete at least six (6) hours of mental-health-related CLE each year.
New applicants must have completed at least six (6) hours of CLE in the
calendar year preceding the submission of their application;
f. Be familiar with the Texas Mental Health Code; and
g. Comply with all MHMC program policies and procedures.
Prompt Appointment of Counsel
PROMPT APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
A. When Counsel Appointed
Counsel shall be appointed to an indigent arrestee as soon as practicable, but no
later than the end of the first working day after the date the appointing authority
receives the indigent arrestee’s request for appointed counsel. Counsel shall be
appointed regardless of whether a case has been filed in a district court.
If an arrested person is released from jail prior to counsel being appointed,
appointment of counsel is not required until the defendant’s first court appearance or
when adversarial judicial proceedings are initiated, whichever occurs first.
B. Authority to Appoint Counsel
The local administrative district judge shall appoint lead counsel for a defendant
accused of capital murder from the First Administrative Judicial Region of Texas’ List of
Attorneys Qualified to Represent Indigent Defendants in Death Penalty Cases. If
appropriate, the presiding trial court judge will appoint second-chair counsel following
For all other felony accusations, the district judges designate the following as
authorities to appoint counsel for indigent defendants:
1. The Indigent Defense Office;
2. A judge or magistrate presiding over a proceeding for which the appointment
of counsel is sought; and
3. The MHMC director (for mental health-designated cases).
Forms to request court-appointed counsel are available at the Indigent Defense
Office, 2100 Bloomdale Rd., Ste. 20209, McKinney, Texas 75071.
C. Circumstances Requiring Appointment of Counsel
An indigent accused is entitled to court-appointed representation in an
adversarial judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement
and in any other criminal proceeding if the court concludes that the interests of
justice require the appointment of counsel. The indigent accused is also entitled
to sufficient time to consult in private with counsel in advance of a proceeding.
An indigent defendant is entitled to appointed counsel in the following
appellate and post-conviction habeas corpus matters:
a. An appeal to the Fifth District Court of Appeals;
b. An appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals if the appeal is made directly
from the trial court or if a petition for discretionary review has been
c. A habeas corpus proceeding if the court makes a written finding that the
interests of justice require representation; and
d. Any other appellate proceeding if the court makes a written finding that
the interests of justice require representation.
D. Out-of-County Warrants
If a person is arrested in another county based on a warrant issued by Collin
County, and the person is indigent, counsel will be appointed within one working day of
the appointing authority’s receipt of the request for counsel.
If a person is arrested in Collin County pursuant to a warrant issued by a
different county, and the person is indigent, counsel shall be appointed to represent the
person in a bail or habeas corpus proceeding if the person is still in the custody of Collin
County on the 11th day following the arrest. If counsel is appointed in Collin County,
Collin County may seek from the issuing county reimbursement for the actual costs paid
by Collin County for appointed counsel’s reasonable and necessary legal services.
E. Defendants Appearing Without Counsel
If a defendant appears in court without counsel:
1. The court may not direct or encourage the defendant to communicate with
an 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
2. 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 after
the denial, the defendant:
a. Was given a reasonable opportunity to retain counsel and failed to retain
b. Waived the opportunity to retain counsel.
3. An attorney representing the state may not initiate or encourage any
attempt to obtain from the defendant a waiver of the right to counsel or
communicate with a defendant who has requested the appointment of
counsel, unless the appointing authority has denied the request and after the
denial, the defendant:
a. Was given a reasonable opportunity to retain counsel and failed to retain
b. Waived the opportunity to retain counsel.
F. Waiver of Right to Counsel
A defendant may waive the right to counsel if it is voluntary and intelligent. If a
defendant desires to waive the right to counsel, the court shall advise the defendant of
the nature of the charge(s) and the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation. If
the court determines that the waiver is voluntary and intelligent, the court shall provide
the defendant with a statement substantially similar to the following, which shall be
filed in the record of the proceeding if it is signed by the defendant.
I have been advised by the court of my right to be represented
by counsel in this case. I have also been advised that if I cannot
afford to hire counsel, counsel will be appointed at no cost to
me. I understand my right to counsel and to have counsel
appointed to represent me if I cannot afford to hire counsel. I
wish to waive my right to counsel and I ask the court to
proceed with my case without an attorney being appointed to
represent me. I freely waive my right to counsel.
A defendant may revoke a waiver of the right to counsel at any time. However, if
a waiver is revoked, the defendant is not entitled to repeat a proceeding previously held
or waived solely because counsel has been appointed or retained. If the defendant
revokes a waiver, counsel shall be given at least ten (10) days to prepare for a
G. Additional Procedures for Mental Health Appointments
When an indigent defendant is identified in the CCQ/TLET match system or
meets other program requirements, the defendant will be assigned to the MHMC office,
which will promptly appoint counsel. The court in which a case is pending may also refer
an indigent defendant to the MHMC office for assignment and appointment of counsel.
If a defendant referred to the MHMC office is not identified in CCQ/TLET match
or does not meet other program requirements, the MHMC office may decline to accept
the case for assignment and appointment if:
1. There is a conflict of interest which has not been waived by the defendant;
2. The office has insufficient resources to provide adequate representation;
3. The office is incapable of providing representation in accordance with the
rules of professional conduct; or
4. The office shows other good and sufficient cause for declining the
An attorney appointed to represent a defendant assigned to the MHMC program
may utilize the services of the MHMC office case managers.
Attorney Selection Process
ATTORNEY SELECTION PROCESS
A. Procedures for Appointment
Attorneys qualified to provide representation in felony cases shall be appointed
from public lists established by the district judges or their designee. The lists shall be
graduated according to the seriousness of the offense or the category of case subject to
Appointments shall be made using a system of rotation, with each appointment
made from among the next five names on the list in the order in which the names
appear. Upon a finding of good cause in writing or on the record, an attorney may be
appointed out of order. Good cause includes, but is not limited to, the following:
1. The defendant requesting counsel does not understand English, in which
case the attorney whose name appears next in order and who speaks the
clients’ language will be appointed, if one is available;
2. An attorney was appointed to represent the same defendant in a different or
prior matter. The same attorney may be appointed to the new matter;
3. The appointment is made during a court proceeding and the appointment of
a qualified attorney who is present in court on a different matter would serve
the efficient and expeditious administration of justice; or
4. Any other sufficient cause that would serve the interests of justice.
Once appointed, an attorney’s name will be moved to the bottom of the 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.
B. Review of Attorneys on List
The MHMC director, for attorneys on the MHMC list, and the district judges or
their designee, for all other felony lists, will monitor the performance of attorneys on
their respective lists on a continuing basis to ensure the attorneys’ competency and
C. Removal from List
The MHMC director may remove or suspend an attorney from the MHMC list.
For all other felony lists, an attorney may be removed or suspended by a majority of
district judges. An attorney who is removed or suspended from a list shall be notified
immediately. The notice shall include the reason(s) for the decision.
D. Removal from Case
An appointed attorney may be discharged from continued representation of a
defendant in a particular case by the presiding judge.
E. Grounds for Removal
Grounds for removal include, without limitation:
1. An attorney’s submission of a claim for legal services not performed or
supervised by the attorney;
2. An attorney’s submission of an application for placement on an attorney list
that contains false or misleading information;
3. An attorney’s failure to appear at a court hearing without sufficient
4. An irreconcilable conflict or breakdown of communication between the
attorney and client that renders continued representation untenable;
5. A finding by the presiding judge that another qualified attorney is more
appropriate for the defendant;
6. Replacement of appointed counsel in a death penalty case is required under
CCP Art. 26.052(e);
7. An attorney’s illness, workload, or scheduling difficulties; or diminished
mental or physical capacity to such an extent that the attorney’s ability to
provide adequate representation can reasonably be questioned;
8. An attorney is convicted of or received deferred adjudication for any felony
or crime of moral turpitude; or is under indictment or other formal criminal
accusation for any offense if the attorney’s ability to fully and effectively
represent his or her appointed clients is compromised or otherwise adversely
affected by the pending accusation;
9. A trial court proceeding has concluded and the defendant has requested
10. The defendant shows good cause for removal of counsel, including counsel’s
persistent or prolonged failure to communicate with the defendant;
11. An attorney’s failure to make reasonable efforts to contact the client not
later than the end of the first working day after the date on which the
attorney is appointed and to interview the client as soon as practicable after
the attorney is appointed;
12. An attorney’s failure to provide effective representation to the client,
including an attorney who has been found to have rendered ineffective
assistance of counsel by a court of record, and all appeals from said finding
have been exhausted;
13. An attorney’s failure to comply with the Texas Disciplinary Rules of
Professional Conduct, or the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure;
14. An attorney’s failure to provide the required practice-time report to the
Texas Indigent Defense Commission by October 15 of each year;
15. Public disciplinary action or reprimand by the State Bar of Texas or any other
attorney licensing authority of any state or the United States; and
16. An attorney’s failure to comply with the provisions of this Plan.
F. Additional Grounds for Removal from Appeals List
Appellate counsel shall immediately notify the trial court upon receipt of notice
from an appeals court that the deadline for filing a brief has not been met. The attorney
shall be temporarily suspended from the appeals list until the brief has been filed.
Reinstatement shall be contingent on providing the trial court with a written or
electronic copy of the brief and proof of filing.
Appellate counsel shall also immediately notify the trial court, and shall be
permanently removed from the appeals list, upon receipt of an order to show cause
why counsel should not be held in contempt for failure to timely file a brief.
Appellate counsel will also be permanent removed from the list if an appeal is
abated and the trial court is ordered to determine whether the appellant still desires to
pursue an appeal following counsel’s failure to respond to a notice from the appeals
court that a brief is overdue.
An attorney permanently removed from the appeals list may apply for
reinstatement only upon submission of:
1. A statement claiming exceptional circumstances which reasonably prevented
counsel from meeting the appellate deadlines; or
2. A statement of measures taken by the attorney to prevent any future
recurrence of failing to meet appellate deadlines.
G. Appointment of Replacement Counsel
When an attorney is removed from a list or from representation in a particular
case, replacement counsel shall immediately be selected and appointed in accordance
with this Plan.
H. Appeal of Removal from List
If an attorney is removed from a list, the attorney may appeal the decision by
notifying the local administrative district judge. If a request for hearing is granted, the
attorney may attend a meeting of the district judges and present his or her appeal.
Following the appeal, the district judges will decide by majority vote whether to sustain
the removal, reinstate the attorney, or suspend the attorney’s placement on the wheel
for a specified period of time. If an attorney is suspended, the suspension may be
imposed or probated.
If an attorney seeks reinstatement following removal, the attorney must file an
original application during the appropriate period. An attorney removed for not
submitting the annual practice-time report must present proof that the required report
was submitted to TIDC.
J. Discharge When Defendant is Unapprehended
When a defendant under felony accusation has been unapprehended for six or
more months, appointed counsel may be discharged by the presiding judge sua sponte
or at the request of appointed counsel. If the client is later apprehended, the same
attorney may be appointed until disposition, unless the attorney is no longer on the list
at the time of the defendant’s apprehension, or there is other good cause for the
appointment of different counsel.
Upon a defendant’s subsequent arrest, appointed counsel is obligated to contact
and interview the defendant pursuant to the requirements of Section V, Duties of
Counsel, Subsection A, Duties to Client, Paragraph 2.
K. Electronic Attorney Appointment System
An appointing authority shall make all appointments using the Odyssey
electronic attorney appointment system. If Odyssey is not available, an appointing
authority shall appoint an attorney from the public list of approved attorneys and
update the electronic appointment system when possible. The public list shall conform
to the list in the electronic attorney appointment system at all times.
The electronic attorney appointment system shall contain identifying
information for the attorneys who have been specially approved for appointment in
cases involving mental illness or mental defect.
L. Temporary Inactive Status
An attorney on a list may request to be inactive for up to 90 days by submitting a
written request to the Indigent Defense Office. During the inactive period, the attorney
will not be appointed to any new cases. If an attorney is inactive for more than 90 days,
the attorney must submit a written request for reinstatement along with proof of CLE
An attorney appointed to represent a defendant charged with capital murder in
which the death penalty is sought will be temporarily suspended from the felony
appointment list(s) beginning 30 days before the beginning of trial and lasting until the
trial is over.
DUTIES OF COUNSEL
A. Duties to Client
An attorney appointed to represent an indigent defendant shall:
1. Maintain reasonable communication and contact with the client at all times
and keep the client informed of the status of the case;
2. Make every reasonable effort to:
a. Contact the defendant by the end of the first working day after the date
on which the attorney is appointed;
b. Interview the defendant as soon as practicable after the attorney is
c. Visit a client who is incarcerated in the county jail at least once every
thirty (30) days;
3. Represent the defendant until:
a. The charge is no-billed or dismissed;
d. The defendant is acquitted;
e. The defendant is sentenced, and counsel has advised the defendant of
the right to file a motion for new trial or notice of appeal, and if the
defendant wishes to pursue either or both, counsel has assisted the
defendant with requesting the prompt appointment of appellate counsel;
and in cases where appellate counsel is not promptly appointed, filed a
motion for new trial or notice of appeal; or
f. The attorney is discharged by the presiding judge or replaced by other
4. Investigate, either personally 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;
5. 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;
6. Be prepared to negotiate with the prosecutor for the most favorable
resolution of the case as can be achieved through an agreed disposition;
7. Be prepared to try the case to conclusion either with or without a jury;
8. 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; and
9. 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;
10. Render professional legal services in accordance with this Plan, the
requirements of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and applicable rules of
11. Manage the attorney’s workload in accordance with TIDC recommendations
and in such a manner as to allow for the provision of quality representation
and the execution of responsibilities imposed by this Plan.
B. No Remuneration from Clients
An attorney appointed to represent a client shall neither solicit nor accept
remuneration from the client on the appointed case(s) unless the presiding judge
determines that there has been a change in financial status and approves such payment.
If the client is charged with a new offense or is in need of other legal services during the
pendency of an attorney’s appointment, the attorney shall not accept remuneration for
representation in those matters without notice to, and approval by, the presiding judge.
C. Maximum Caseload Limit
An attorney with a pending felony caseload of 90 or more shall be suspended
from all future felony appointments until the attorney reduces his caseload to less than
85 pending felony cases.
Fee and Expense Payment Process
Court-appointed counsel shall be compensated for all reasonable and necessary services
rendered in representing an accused. Compensation shall be in accordance with the Schedule
of Fees for Compensation of Appointed Counsel (which is attached to this Plan and
incorporated for all purposes).
A. Requests for Compensation
An attorney shall complete and submit a request for compensation for services
rendered using the county auditor’s approved form, Appointed Counsel Request for
Compensation. Upon its implementation, attorneys shall submit requests for
compensation using the electronic Court Appointed Attorney Payment System
Only an appointed attorney of record may complete and submit a request for
compensation. Appointed counsel shall perform all work within the scope of the
attorney-client relationship. No attorney who is appointed on a case shall delegate,
subcontract, or otherwise permit a different attorney who is not appointed to provide
legal services in the same case, unless the appointed attorney is unavailable and the
other attorney is appearing at a non-dispositive setting, or the appointed attorney is
unavailable and the substituting attorney is approved for the same list from which the
appointed attorney was selected.
Subsequent to indictment, a request for compensation must include ALL services
performed during the period of appointment. Partial-payment applications shall not be
submitted nor approved, with the exception of capital cases.
Except as stated below for MHMC cases, a request for compensation shall be
submitted only to the judge who presided over the proceeding for which payment is
sought, unless the judge was sitting by assignment, in which case the request shall be
submitted to the presiding judge for whom the assigned judge was sitting. The presiding
judge shall review the request for compensation and either approve or disapprove the
No request for compensation shall be submitted other than in accordance with
the rules set forth in this Plan. Requests which do not comply with the provisions of this
Plan may be reduced or disapproved.
B. MHMC Procedures
For MHMC cases, requests for compensation shall be submitted to the MHMC
director. The MHMC director shall review the request and either approve or disapprove
the amount requested. If the MHMC director disapproves a request, the director may,
but is not required to, forward the request to the presiding judge. If forwarded to the
presiding judge, the presiding judge, after review, will either approve the amount
requested, disapprove the amount requested, or take no action.
C. Timely Submission of Requests for Compensation
For a case resolved by pretrial disposition (e.g., plea agreement or dismissal),
counsel shall submit the request for compensation within seven (7) days of the date of
If a case is disposed of by trial, the request for compensation shall be submitted
within thirty (30) days of the date on which the trial is concluded.
Requests for compensation not submitted within thirty (30) days of the date of
disposition will not be approved, absent extenuating circumstances submitted in writing
and attached to the request.
D. Fixed-Rate Fee Schedule
For legal services subject to the fixed-rate fee schedule, the following rules must
be observed in all cases.
1. Overhead Costs
Normal postage, copying, etc., are considered normal overhead costs and are
not subject to reimbursement. If there is a special expense, such as a
required overnight or special delivery, an especially voluminous printing, or
some other out-of-the-ordinary expense necessitated by the case, receipt(s)
must be submitted with a written explanation.
2. Paralegal Fees
Legal services performed by paralegals are included in the fixed rates and no
additional claims for compensation will be approved.
Normal traveling expenses are included in the fixed rates and no additional
claims for compensation will be approved. For any necessary and out-of-theordinary
travel expenses, travel time may be billed at $50 per hour, in 0.1-
hour (six minute) increments. Mileage for roundtrips greater than 50 miles
may be reimbursed at current IRS rates ($0.58 per mile as of 2019).
E. Hourly Rates
For legal services subject to approved hourly rates, attorneys shall submit an
itemized billing statement, attached to the request for compensation, which segregates
the time billed for each client and matter. No claim shall duplicate any time that may
also be charged to a different client or matter. Time shall be billed in 0.1 hour (sixminute)
increments. The statement must include each legal service provided, separated
by each individual task, the time expended, and the date.
An attorney shall not bill for any services performed prior to the date of
appointment or after the period of appointment has concluded.
1. Normal and Customary Costs
Usual and customary costs of a law practice, including postage, copying,
preparation of vacation letters, billing statement preparation, opening and
closing of files, receipt and review of automated responses from the district
clerk, reviewing the court’s file, etc. shall not be included in requests for
reimbursement, and shall not be approved for payment. For any unusual or
out-of-the-ordinary expenses, such as necessary overnight or special
delivery, voluminous printing costs, receipt(s) must be submitted with a
2. Paralegal Fees
Work performed by a paralegal who is employed by appointed counsel shall
not be submitted or approved for payment.
Attorney travel time may be billed at $50 per hour, in 0.1-hour (six minute)
increments. Attorneys may not bill for travel to or from the courthouse or
jail. Mileage for roundtrips greater than 50 miles may be reimbursed at
current IRS rates ($0.58 per mile as of 2019). Food and lodging will not be
reimbursed unless pre-approved by the court.
F. Investigator & Expert Expenses
Appointed counsel may file with the trial court a pretrial ex-parte motion for
advance payment of investigative and/or expert services. The motion must state:
1. The type of investigation to be conducted or type of expert to be retained;
2. Specific facts which support a conclusion that an investigation will result in
admissible evidence or that the services of an expert witness are reasonably
necessary to assist in the preparation of a defense; and
3. An itemized list of anticipated expenses for each investigation or expert.
The court shall grant the request for advance payment of expenses in whole or in
part if the request is reasonable. Ordinarily, advance payments for investigator expenses
may not exceed $750.00 and advanced payments for expert witness services may not
exceed $2,000.00. Investigators may not bill at an hourly rate that exceeds $65.00.
Travel must utilize the least expensive means and airfare must be booked at
least 21 days in advance. Reimbursement for mileage may only be submitted for
roundtrips exceeding 50 miles, and will be approved at current IRS rates. A Google or
other internet map of the route of travel must be included with a request.
If the court denies in whole or in part a 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.
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 for the expenses only if they are reasonably necessary and
reasonably incurred. Unreasonable or unnecessary expenses will not be approved.
In MHMC cases, the MHMC director may complete and submit requests for
compensation of experts appointed to conduct competency, sanity, or other
psychological exams. Requests for compensation of expert witnesses in MHMC cases
shall not exceed $2,000.00 unless approved by the presiding judge.
In all other cases, requests for compensation of services rendered by a private
investigator or expert must be certified to, signed, and submitted by the attorney of
record, even if the auditor is to release payment directly to the investigator or expert.
G. Appeal of Disapproval or Inaction
If a judge or the MHMC director disapproves (or reduces) a request for
compensation, the judge or MHMC director shall make written findings, stating the
amount of payment approved and each reason for approving an amount different from
the requested amount.
An attorney whose request for payment is disapproved or is not otherwise acted
on by the 60th day after the date the request for compensation is submitted may appeal
the disapproval or failure to act by filing a notice of appeal with the Presiding Judge of
the First Administrative Judicial Region.
After receiving a notice of appeal, the presiding district judge may enter a
revised payment order within ten (10) days. If the judge does not enter a revised
payment order, and the judge has not already done so, the judge shall, within five (5)
days of the filing of the motion, file written findings detailing the reason(s) for
disapproving the requested attorney’s fees.
If the judge enters a revised payment order, the judge shall file it with the
Presiding Judge of the First Administrative Judicial Region. If a revised payment order
resolves the dispute to the satisfaction of the appealing attorney, the attorney shall file
a notice withdrawing the appeal with the Presiding Judge of the First Administrative
Judicial Region. If the revised payment order does not fully resolve the issue to the
attorney’s satisfaction, the attorney shall, within five (5) days of the signing of the
revised payment order, file with the presiding district judge and the Presiding Judge of
the First Administrative Judicial Region a notice stating that the matter remains subject
to contest. The attorney shall attach a copy of the trial court’s revised payment order to
H. Petitions for Nondisclosure and Petitions for Expunction
Petitions for nondisclosure and petitions for expunction (other than acquittal
expunctions) will not be approved for payment.
This plan is subject to amendment.
B. Availability of Forms
Forms referenced in this plan are accessible through the links provided on the
final page and may also be available on the Collin County website:
C. Effective Date
This plan is effective November 1, 2019, and the provisions herein apply to
all appointments made on or after that date.
Collin District Court 2019 Federal Poverty Guidelines.xls (10/22/2019 3:45:44 PM) view
Collin District Court Affidavit of Indigence - Spanish 2018.pdf (10/23/2017 11:59:45 AM) view
Collin District Court Affidavit of Indigence.pdf (10/23/2017 11:58:38 AM) view
Collin District Court Attorney Application for Appointment.pdf (10/18/2019 3:07:29 PM) view
Collin District Court Attorney Application for MHMC Program Appointment.docx (10/25/2013 9:42:13 AM) view
Collin District Court Attorney Fee Schedule.docx (11/6/2019 3:37:10 PM) view
Collin District Court Attorney Fee Voucher.pdf (10/23/2019 12:32:41 PM) view
Collin District Court Attorney Renewal Application.pdf (10/18/2019 3:08:39 PM) view
Collin District Court Collin District Court 2013 Federal Poverty Guidelines.docx (4/9/2013 2:22:07 PM) view
Collin District Court Felony Renewal Application 2018.pdf (10/23/2017 12:00:29 PM) view
Collin District Court Findings on Attorney's Request for Compensation.docx (10/18/2019 3:09:38 PM) view
Collin District Court Local Rules To Implement The Fair Defense Act.pdf (12/8/2009 11:27:41 AM) view
Collin District Court Magistrate’s Warning Form.doc (10/22/2013 4:03:45 PM) view
Collin District Court Managed Assigned Counsel Plan of Operation.docx (10/31/2013 7:52:21 AM) view
Collin District Court Waiver of Counsel - Spanish.docx (10/18/2019 3:06:34 PM) view
Collin District Court Waiver of Counsel.docx (10/18/2019 3:07:02 PM) view