Shelby County Court Plan
Prompt Magistration
The Justices of the Peace of Shelby County shall establish a plan to hold magistrate hearings each day. Such hearings shall inform the accused person of his right to counsel as provided by the Indigent Defense Act in addition to the magistrate=s warnings as required by statute. A written record of the magistrate=s warning and right to appointed counsel for indigent accused persons shall be made at the time of the hearing. After informing the accused person of his right to court appointed counsel, the Justice of the Peace shall furnish that person with an affidavit of indigency to complete if a request is made for counsel by such person. The magistrate shall ensure that reasonable assistance in completing forms necessary to request counsel is provided to the accused. Upon completion of the request and affidavit, the magistrate shall forward it to the office of the District Judge or County Judge at the Shelby County courthouse. After receiving the request and affidavit, the District or County Judge shall review the request and affidavit. Within three (3) working days of receiving the request and affidavit, the judge reviewing same shall either: (1) approve the request without a hearing and appoint counsel or, (2) conduct a hearing in the presence of the accused person to determine indigency. If the accused person is released from custody prior to appointment of counsel, then the judge shall determine indigency and appointment of counsel at the first court appearance of such person.

For persons arrested on out-of-county warrants, the magistrate will ask the defendant if he/she would like to request appointed counsel. The magistrate will record the response, and if counsel is requested, the magistrate will provide the arrestee with the appropriate forms for requesting counsel. The magistrate will ensure assistance in completing the forms at the same time. The forms will be transmitted to the appointing authority in the county issuing the warrant within 24 hours of the request being made.

Indigence Determination Standards

Determination of Indigence for Adults

A.    Definitions, as used in this rule:

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

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

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

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

B.     Eligibility for Appointment

                                i.            An accused is presumed indigent if the accused's net household income does not exceed 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines as revised annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and published in the Federal Register.

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

(1) the accused person=s income, (2) the source of the accused person=s income, (3) the assets and property owned by the accused person, (4) the accused person=s outstanding obligations, expenses and debts, (5) the number and ages of accused person=s children and dependants, (6) assets and income of the accused person=s household if that is available to him, and (7) any other relevant factors or extenuating circumstances of the accused person.

                            iii.            The judge may not consider whether the accused person has posted of is capable of posting bail except to the extent that it reflects the accused person=s financial circumstances as measured by these listed factors.

C.     Indigence Proceedings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

b.      Additional information regarding the accused’s financial circumstances that shows that the accused does not meet any of the standards for indigence contained in these rules.

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

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

Minimum Attorney Qualifications

All attorneys licensed to practice law and who are a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas are eligible to apply for appointment.


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 online form to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.



  Applicants must meet the following minimum qualifications to be considered:

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

B.   An attorney shall reside in Shelby County or maintain his/her principle office in Shelby County or a city of an adjacent county.

C.    An attorney shall have a secretary, receptionist, answering service or regularly monitored answering machine.

D.   An attorney shall have a functioning facsimile machine or an e-mail address, which is available at all times.

E.   An attorney shall have the ability to produce typed motions and orders.

F.    An attorney shall have on file with the judges a written request for the appointment to indigent accused persons that agrees to abide by all requirements and terms stated herein.

G.   An attorney shall promptly notify the judges of any changes to the information contained in the written request.

H.   An attorney shall promptly notify the judges of any matter that would disqualify such attorney from receiving appointments under these requirements and terms

I.      An attorney shall personally contact the accused person within the first working day after receiving notice of appointment and personally interview the accused person as soon as practical after appointment.

J.    An attorney shall represent the accused person until the case is disposed of, the attorney is replaced by retained counsel, or permitted to withdraw by the judge presiding over the case.

K.   Only attorneys approved to provide representation in capital cases will be appointed to those  cases where an accused person is charge with or indicted for capital murder.

L.    The judges reserve the right to appoint attorneys that are not on the list of qualified counsel  for good cause.

M.   The judges may remove an attorney from the list of qualified counsel for failing to abide by these requirements and terms or for good cause.

N.   Emergency Appointment: If no attorney who meets the continuing legal education or board certification requirements is available by the time an attorney must be appointed in the case, another attorney shall be appointed. The person making the appointment shall give priority to an attorney with experience in criminal law or juvenile law, respectively.

O.   Attorneys must be approved by the judge (or judges) to be placed on the appointment list.



Prompt Appointment of Counsel

A.    Prompt Appointment of Counsel

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

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

iii.    If an indigent defendant is arrested in another county based on this county’s warrant, counsel will be appointed within 3 working days of this county’s receipt of the request for counsel.

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

v. If a defendant wishes to request counsel prior to the initial appearance, the forms required to request counsel may be obtained at the Texas Indigent Defense Commission’s website at from the Shelby County Judge's Office, 200 San Augustine ST, Box 6, Center, TX 75935. The defendant may submit these forms to the Shelby County Judge's Office, 200 San Augustine ST, Box 6, Center, TX 75935 or to  The court will rule on all requests for counsel submitted in this manner.

B.     If a defendant appears without counsel in any adversary judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement, the court may not direct or encourage the defendant to communicate with the attorney representing the state until the court advises the defendant of the right to counsel and the procedure for requesting appointed counsel and the defendant has been given a reasonable opportunity to request appointed counsel.


Attorney Selection Process

Attorney Selection Process for Adults (Rotation)

A.    The appointing authority will identify which of the appointment lists, discussed in the Section III (attorney qualifications), is most appropriate based on the accusations against the defendant and will appoint the attorney whose name is first on the list, unless the court makes a finding of good cause on the record for appointing an attorney out of order. Good cause may include:

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

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

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

B.     Once appointed, an attorney’s name will be moved to the bottom of the appointment list. An attorney who is not appointed in the order in which the attorney’s name appears on the list shall remain next in order on the list.

C.     Judicial Removal from Case:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fee and Expense Payment Process

The fee schedule adopted by the County Court At Law and 123rd District Courts of Shelby County attached hereto shall remain in effect until amended by further order.No payment shall be made until the judge approves payment after submission of an attorney fee voucher. If the judge disapproves the requested amount of payment, the judge shall make written findings that the judge approves and each reason for approving an amount different from the requested amount.


Investigative and Expert Expenses:


Counsel appointed in a non-capital case shall be reimbursed for reasonable and

necessary expenses, including expenses for investigation and for mental health and

other experts. Expenses incurred with and without prior court approval shall be

reimbursed, according to the procedures set forth below. When possible, prior court

approval should be obtained before incurring expenses for investigation and for mental

health and other experts.

Procedure With Prior Court Approval:

Appointed counsel may file with the trial court a pretrial ex parte confidential request

for advance payment of investigative and expert expenses. The request for

expenses must state, as applicable:


(1)  the type of investigation to be conducted or the type of expert to be retained;

(2)  specific facts that suggest the investigation will result in admissible evidence or

that the services of an expert are reasonably necessary to assist in the preparation

of a potential defense; and

(3)  an itemized list of anticipated expenses for each investigation or each expert.


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.


Articles 26.05(d), 26.052(f), (9) & (h), Code of Criminal Procedure

Plan Documents
Shelby County Court Affidavit of Indigence.doc (12/10/2009 4:17:51 PM) view
Shelby County Court Attorney Application for Appointment.doc (12/10/2009 4:18:29 PM) view
Shelby County Court Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (8/26/2010 11:01:28 AM) view
Shelby County Court Attorney Fee Voucher.doc (12/10/2009 4:19:13 PM) view
Shelby County Court Magistrates Warning Form.doc (12/10/2009 4:18:52 PM) view
Shelby County Court Waiver of Counsel.doc (10/31/2013 1:21:30 PM) view