Cameron Juvenile Board Plan
Prompt Detention Hearings

Promt Detention Hearing

A child taken into custody must either be brought to a juvenile processing office without unnecessary delay where he/she may not be detained for longer than six hours pursuant to §52.025, Family Code, or another disposition authorized by §52.02, Family Code, including referral to the office designated by the juvenile board as intake for the juvenile court.  The intake officer shall process the child according the requirement of §53.01, Family Code, and shall also inform the child and the child’s parents of the right to appointed counsel if they are indigent and provide a form for the purpose of determining eligibility for appointment of counsel. If the child is not released by intake, then a Detention Hearing shall be held not later than the second working day after the child is taken into custody unless the child is detained on a Friday, Saturday or listed holiday in which case the detention hearing shall be held on the first working day after the child is taken into custody. 


Prior to the detention hearing the court shall inform the parties of the child’s right to counsel and to appointed counsel if they are indigent, and of the child’s right to remain silent as to the alleged conduct. At the time the Cameron County Juvenile Office is conducting intake procedures involving a particular juvenile, the juvenile office shall see to it that the juvenile, together with his family, where possible, will fill out the form for purposes of determining indigency. As hereinafter provided, the juvenile department shall deliver the form to the juvenile judge for determination of indigency.


The detention hearing may be conducted without the presence of the child’s parent(s) or other responsible adult(s), however, in these cases the court must immediately appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem to represent the child.


The court shall provide the attorney for the child access to all written matter to be considered by the Court in making the detention decision.


Indigence Determination Standards

Indigence Determination Standards

When used herein, the term “Juvenile Judge” shall include the Associate Judge/Referee. Whether or not the juvenile qualifies for indigency status shall be decided by the Juvenile Judge.

            The financial data requested from the juvenile’s parent(s)/other responsible person(s) will include but is not limited to the parent’s/other responsible person’s income, source of income, assets, property owned, outstanding obligations, necessary expenses, the number and ages of dependants, and spousal income that is available to the responsible person.

            Based on the financial data given by the person responsible for the juvenile, the office will calculate and determine whether the person meets the financial standard for indigency in Cameron County. That standard follows:

1.         The responsible person’s necessary expenses will be subtracted from the defendant's gross income, including spousal income if applicable. The resulting number will be referred to as the juvenile's "net income".

2.         "Necessary expenses" should include but are not limited to: rent or mortgage, food/groceries, car payment, car insurance, utilities for the defendant's household.

3.         The juvenile's "net income" will be used to determine if the individual is indigent based on the income for one person under the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If the juvenile's "net income" is $867 or more a month, they will be presumed not to qualify for a court-appointed attorney. If the juvenile's "net income" is less than $867 a month, they will, qualify for a court-appointed attorney. The amount will be adjusted annually pursuant to the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

4.         A juvenile who is presumed not be indigent because his/her income is $867 or more a month may ask the court to review his/her financial circumstances and the cost of retaining counsel based on the seriousness of the offense and the court may appoint counsel if it finds that the defendant is not financially able to hire counsel.

            A juvenile who is determined to be indigent is presumed to remain indigent for the remainder of the proceedings in the case unless a material change in the responsible person's financial circumstances occurs. If there is a material change in financial circumstances after a determination of indigency or non-indigency is made, the juvenile, the person responsible for the juvenile, the juvenile's counsel, or the attorney representing the state may move for reconsideration of the determination.


Minimum Attorney Qualifications

Minimum Attorney Qualifications for Juveniles

Juvenile Public Defender

            The Cameron County Juvenile Board has heretofore established positions for Juvenile Public Defenders who are employed by the Cameron County Juvenile Board on a full time basis at a salary determined by the Cameron County Juvenile Board with the approval of the Cameron County Commissioner’s Court. The Juvenile Public Defenders are Cameron County employees for purposes of salary and fringe benefits and hold their position at the pleasure of the Cameron County Juvenile Board. When a vacancy occurs in the position of Juvenile Public Defender, the vacancy may be filled by the Chairman of the Juvenile Board or his or her designee (who must be a member of the Cameron County Juvenile Board) with the approval of a majority of the Juvenile Board. The Chairman or his or her designee may appoint such person with the individual approvals of a majority of the Board without the necessity of action at a Board meeting. Any such employment of a Juvenile Public Defender with the approval of the majority of the Cameron County Juvenile Board should be presented for ratification at the next regular meeting of the Cameron County Juvenile Board.


            To be eligible for employment as a Juvenile Defender, a person shall be a duly licensed member of the Bar Association of the State of Texas. Such person should have at least one year experience as a practicing attorney and should be familiar with the Texas Juvenile Code. In order to continue as a Juvenile Public Defender, such attorney should receive at least one half of his or her required continuing legal education hours in juvenile matters for each year following his or her appointment. Such person shall attend the Annual Texas Juvenile Law Conference unless his or her attendance is waived by the Chairman of the Cameron County Juvenile Board or his or her designee and ratified by the Cameron County Juvenile Board at its next regular meeting following such waiver.


Public Appointment List

            In the event that the Juvenile Public Defender is unable to represent an indigent juvenile, the Juvenile Judge will appoint counsel from a public appointment list. Attorneys on the public appointment list to represent juveniles must obtain at least six (6) juvenile CLE hours annually and must be approved by a majority of the Cameron County Juvenile Board. These attorneys may be approved to represent juveniles for some or all levels of offenses whether the offenses be CINS charges; delinquent conduct and commitment to TYC Is not an authorized disposition; delinquent conduct, and commitment to TYC without a determinate sentence is an authorized disposition; determinate sentence proceedings have been initiated; or proceedings for discretionary transfer to criminal court have been initiated.


Removal from Appointment List

            The Juvenile Board 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.


Duties of Appointed Counsel

            Appointed Counsel shall make every reasonable effort to:

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

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


            The attorney shall represent the child until:

1.                  The case is terminated;

2.                  The family retains an attorney; or

The attorney is relieved of his duties by the court or replaced by other counsel. 

              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 October 1 and ends on September 30. The report must be submitted through the Texas Indigent Defense Commission's online portal.

Prompt Appointment of Counsel

Promt Appointment of Counsel

If after initial intake procedures, the juvenile is not immediately detained, the Juvenile Office shall retain the aforementioned form until a petition is filed or a detention order is issued by the Juvenile Judge, whichever comes first. Such form shall be attached either to the petition or the request for a detention order and called to the attention of the Juvenile Judge. The Juvenile Judge shall determine indigency, and if it is determined that the juvenile qualifies for a court appointed attorney, the Juvenile Judge shall appoint the same by no later than the fifth working day after the juvenile is served with the petition.


            If the juvenile is detained after the initial intake proceedings, the Juvenile Office shall provide the form to the Juvenile Judge who shall determine indigency, and if the juvenile is indigent, shall appoint an attorney before the first juvenile detention hearing.

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


Attorney Selection Process

Attorney Selection Process

If the juvenile is indigent, the Juvenile Judge shall appoint one of the Juvenile Public Defenders to represent the juvenile. In the event that all of the juvenile public defenders are either disqualified or have a conflict of interest, the Juvenile Judge shall appoint an attorney from the public appointment list. It is contemplated herein that the appointment of persons to represent indigent juveniles other than the Juvenile Public Defenders shall occur only in rare cases where such disqualifications or conflicts exist. Since Juvenile Public Defenders maintain completely separate offices and case files, each Defender is considered to maintain a separate office for purposes of determining conflicts of interest. When the Juvenile Judge appoints an attorney from the public appointment list, the appointment will be made in a manner that is fair, neutral, and non-discriminatory.


Special Rules For Representation Of Juveniles in Discretionary Transfers To District Courts


If the District Attorney seeks a discretionary transfer to District Court involving an indigent juvenile who has representation appointed by the Juvenile Judge in accordance with this plan, the District Judge to whom the discretionary transfer proceedings is assigned shall appoint an attorney to represent said indigent juvenile in the discretionary transfer proceedings in District Court in accordance with the Cameron County Plan and standing rules and orders for Timely and Fair Appointment of Counsel for Indigent Accused Persons in Cameron County, Texas. The Juvenile Public Defender or other attorney appointed in accordance with the Plan herein shall consult with said attorney in the District Court to aid such attorney in the preparation of the discretionary transfer proceedings. In the event that the District Court grants the discretionary transfer, the indigent juvenile shall be represented in the trial of that case in accordance with the aforementioned Plan for adult criminal cases.


Notwithstanding the foregoing, the attorney appointed by the Juvenile Court shall continue representing the indigent juvenile for purposes of detention hearings while the discretionary transfer proceeding is pending.


Fee and Expense Payment Process

Fee and Expense Payment Process for Juveniles

Court appointed counsel shall be compensated for all reasonable and appropriate services rendered in representing the accused. Compensation shall be reasonable for time and effort expended and will be in accordance with a fee schedule adopted and approved by the Juvenile Board. No payment of attorney’s fees will be made other than in accordance with the rules set forth below.

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

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

            3. 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.

            4. 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.


            Court appointed counsel 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.


Procedure With Prior Court Approval:

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

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

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

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


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

            1. State the reasons for 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.


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.


Plan Documents
Cameron Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (12/16/2009 8:38:43 AM) view
Cameron Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Voucher.pdf (12/16/2009 8:39:08 AM) view
Cameron Juvenile Board Cameron County Juvenile Board Memorandum.pdf (10/31/2013 10:47:15 AM) view
Cameron Juvenile Board Cameron County Juvenile Borad Plan Memo.pdf (10/31/2013 11:08:44 AM) view
Cameron Juvenile Board Judge_Signature_page.pdf (10/10/2014 9:31:48 AM) view