Nueces Juvenile Board Plan
Prompt Detention Hearings
A. A child taken into custody must either be brought to a juvenile processing office without unnecessary delay where they may not be detained for longer than six hours pursuant to Sec. 52.025, Family Code, or another disposition authorized by Sec. 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 to the requirement of Sec. 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.
B. 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. Dentention hearings are scheduled at 1:30 P.M. every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. If there are no hearings set in the afternoon, the court will hold detention hearings at 10:30 A.M. on those days.
C. 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.
D. 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.
E. 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
A. Definitions, as used in this rule:
i. “Indigent” means a person who is not financially able to employ counsel.
ii. “Net household income” in the case of a child is the income of the child’s parents or other person determined responsible for the support of the child. 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 person determined responsible for the support of the child has no income or lesser income.
iii. “Household” means all individuals who are actually dependent on the child’s parent(s) or person(s) deemed responsible for the support of the child, 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. A child is presumed indigent if any of the following conditions or factors are present:
1. At the time of requesting appointed counsel, a child is presumed indigent if the child’s parent(s) or other person(s) determined responsible for the support of the child is eligible to receive food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, or public housing.
2. The net household income of the child’s parent(s) or other person(s) determined responsible for the support of the child 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;
3. The child’s parent(s) or other person(s) determined responsible for the support of the child is currently serving a sentence in a correctional institution, is currently residing in a public mental health facility, or is subject to a proceeding in which admission or commitment to such a mental health facility is sought; or
ii. The child who does not meet any of the standards above shall nevertheless be considered indigent if the child’s parent(s) or other person(s) responsible for the child is unable to retain private counsel without substantial hardship. In considering if obtaining private counsel will create a substantial hardship, the appointing authority shall take into account:
1. the nature of the charge(s);
2. anticipated complexity of the defense;
3. the estimated cost of obtaining competent private legal representation for the matter(s) charged;
4. the amount needed for the support of the child, the child’s parent(s)/person(s) responsible, and other dependents of the child’s parent(s)/person(s) responsible;
5. child’s parent(s’) income or the income of other person(s) determined responsible for the support of the child;
6. source of income;
7. assets and property owned by the child, child’s parent(s), or other person(s) determined responsible for support of the child;
8. outstanding obligations;
9. necessary expenses; and
10. the number and ages of any siblings of the child.
iii. Factors NOT to be considered in determining indigence:
1. The resources available to friends or relatives of the child, other than the child’s parent(s) or other person(s) deemed responsible for the child, may not be considered in determining whether the child is indigent.
2. Only the child's parent(s) or other person(s) responsible for the child and the child’s financial circumstances as measured by the financial standards stated in this rule shall be used as the basis for determining indigence.
C. Indigence Proceedings:
i. The appointing authority can require the child and the child’s parent(s) or other person(s) responsible for the child to respond to questions about the child’s household 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 child is (or is not) indigent; or
2. Impeaching direct testimony of the child or the child’s parent(s)/person(s) responsible regarding the child’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.
iv. A child determined to be indigent is presumed to remain indigent for the remainder of the case unless a material change in the child’s financial circumstances occurs.
1. A child’s status as indigent or not indigent may be reviewed in a formal hearing at any stage of a court. The child’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 child’s parent(s)/person(s) responsible and the child’s financial circumstances; or
b. Additional information regarding the child’s parent(s)/person(s) responsible and the child’s financial circumstances that shows that they do not meet any of the standards for indigence contained in these rules.
2. If a child 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 child’s parent(s) or other person(s) responsible for the child 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 child’s parent(s) or other person(s) responsible for the child to pay during the pendency of the charges or, if found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or CINS, as court costs the amount that it finds the child’s parent(s) or other person(s) responsible for the child is able to pay.
Minimum Attorney Qualifications
In accordance with the Texas Fair Defense Act and Sec. 51.101 of the Texas Family Code (Appointment of Counsel Plan), the Juvenile Board of Nueces County adopts the following plan to govern the process of appointing attorneys to represent indigent juveniles. The Juvenile Board designates the Sitting Juvenile Court Judge (hereinafter, "Judge") as the Coordinator who is responsible for the following:
3. An attorney shall submit by October 15th each year a statement that describes the percentage of the attorney's practice time that was dedicated to work based on appointments accepted in this county for adult criminal cases and juvenile delinquency cases for the prior 12 months that begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The report must be submitted through (1) the online form to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission OR (2) the form prescribed by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to the court administration office in the county.
Review financial statements of families to determine eligibility for appointment of counsel;
Maintain and update a list of qualified attorneys;
Maintain rotation schedule of attorneys;
Receive and investigate complaints against appointed counsel;
This plan recognizes a "B" list and an "A" list based on 5 categories according to the severity of allegations against a juvenile. The categories are as follows:
The "B" List shall encompass cases concerning:
1) CINS allegation
2) Delinquency allegation without the possibility of commitment to TYC
3) Delinquency case with the possibility of commitment to TYC
The "B" List attorneys shall possess at least one of the following minimum qualifications; 1 year of experience as a licensed attorney with significant prior juvenile or similar criminal court experience; or 10 hours of continuing legal education specifically in the area of juvenile law, or any other combination of experience, training or support sufficient to demonstrate the ability to proficiently handle juvenile cases.
The"A" List shall encompass cases concerning:
4) Determinate sentence possibility
5) Discretionary transfer into adult court.
The "A" List attorneys shall possess the following minimum qualifications; 5 years of experience as a licensed attorney, and counsel in at least 15 juvenile cases; and 10 hours continuing legal education with regard to juvenile matters every 12 months.
An attorney with credentials and experience placing them on the "A" list may represent a juvenile in any case.
To receive appointment for appeals in juvenile cases, attorneys must meet the minimum requirements on the "A" List.
The plan will be modified to conform to TAC provisions requiring all attorneys, "A" and "B" list, to have 6 annual C LE hours to be eligible for appointments.
Prompt Appointment of Counsel
A. Appointment of Counsel for Children in Detention
4. Unless the court finds that the appointment of counsel is not feasible 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.
i. 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.
ii. Prior to the initial detention hearing, the court shall provide the attorney for the child with access to all written matter to be considered by the court in making the detention decision.
iii. If there is no parent or other responsible adult present, the court must appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem for the child.
iv. If the juvenile is detained, the child has an immediate right to counsel. If counsel has not already been appointed, the court must either appoint counsel or direct the juvenile’s parent or other responsible adult to retain an attorney promptly. The court may enforce an order to retain counsel by appointing an attorney to represent the child and requiring that the child’s parent or other responsible adult reimburse the court for attorneys’ fees.
v. Upon appointment, the court manager shall notify the appointed attorney by personal contact of the appointment and the scheduled hearing time and date.
vi. The appointed attorney shall make every reasonable effort to contact a child in detention by the end of the first working day after receiving the notice of appointment or to inform the court that the appointment cannot be accepted. Contacting the child in detention must be by personal visit. Contacting the court may be by fax, email, phone or personal visit. A court-appointed attorney shall contact the child no less than once every ten working days while the child remains in detention. A court-appointed attorney may request a detention hearing every ten days the child remains in detention.
vii. An attorney appointed for a detention hearing shall continue to represent the child until the case is terminated, the family retains an attorney, or a new attorney is appointed by the juvenile court. Release of the child from detention does not terminate the attorney’s representation.
viii. Court-appointed attorneys shall make every effort to comply with the Texas State Bar Code of Ethics for communication with a client.
B. Appointment of Counsel for Children not Detained at Intake
i. If the child is released from detention and if a petition to adjudicate or a motion to modify is filed, the juvenile court will use the financial forms gathered at intake to make a determination of indigence. If no financial information is available, the juvenile court shall promptly summon the child’s parent/guardian/custodian to the court so that financial information may be gathered for a determination of indigence.
ii. If the court makes a finding of indigence, the court shall appoint an attorney on or before the fifth working day after:
a. The date a petition for adjudication or discretionary transfer hearing has been served on the child; or
b. A motion to modify disposition seeking commitment to TYC or placing in secure correctional facility has been filed.
iii. If the family does not qualify for appointed counsel or if the parent or guardian is not available, and the family fails to provide an attorney, the juvenile court may appoint an attorney in any case in which it deems representation necessary to protect the interests of the child.
iv. The prosecuting attorney/court clerk shall notify the juvenile court upon the filing of and return of service of a motion to modify or the return of service of a petition for adjudication or discretionary transfer.
Attorney Selection Process
The present system for juvenile appointments is fair, neutral and non-discriminatory. Attorneys are selected for appointments in a rotational manner. If an attorney cannot be promptly appointed under the rotational system, the court will appoint an attorney based on availability. Appointing lawyers for detention hearings often requires appointment of the first lawyer who can be contacted. This may result in a few lawyers receiving disproportionate cases because they make themselves available.
Fee and Expense Payment Process
Payments shall be in accordance with a schedule of fees adopted by the Juvenile Board.
No payment shall be made until the juvenile judge approves payment after submission of court's attorney fee voucher.
If juvenile judge disapproves the requested amount of payment, the juvenile judge shall make written findings stating the amount that the judge approves and each reason for approving an amount different from the requested amount.
An attorney whose request for payment is disapproved or is not acted upon within 60 days of submission may appeal the disapproval or failure to act by filing a motion with the presiding judge of the administrative judicial region.
Expenses incurred without prior approval shall be reimbursed if expenses are reasonably necessary and reasonably incurred.
Nueces Juvenile Board Affidavit of Indigence.pdf (5/26/2010 10:52:12 AM) view
Nueces Juvenile Board Attorney Application for Appointment.doc (10/31/2013 10:41:35 AM) view
Nueces Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (7/8/2010 1:50:32 PM) view
Nueces Juvenile Board Attorney Fee Voucher.pdf (5/26/2010 10:53:10 AM) view