Jefferson District Court Plan
Preamble
10/31/2019

INTRODUCTION; This Plan is for the Jefferson County Criminal District Courts.

Criminal Courts Board:  The Jefferson County Criminal  Courts Board is composed of the judges of the Criminal and 252nd District Courts.  The Board by majority vote will elect a Chairman.  The Chairman shall preside at all Board meetings and hearings and announce any Board decisions.  The Board may periodically impose policies, procedures and guidelines to implement this plan and guarantee effective representation to all indigent felony offenders, in accordance with Art. 26.04 Tx.C.C.P.   In the event of a tie vote, the Local  Administrative Judge will temporarily appoint a District Judge to serve on the Board for the sole purpose of resolving that particular issue.

 

Counsel Coordinator:  A Counsel Coordinator will be designated by the Criminal Courts Board.  All questions, issues and problems must be directed to the Counsel Coordinator for resolution.  The Counsel Coordinator shall also:

1.  Maintain and update the list of attorneys qualified to receive appointments;

2.  Investigate and track attorney qualifications;

3.  Manage arraignment procedures;

4.  Track cases and assignments to prevent duplication;

5.  Organize and administer waiver of indictment procedures;

6.  Supervise and monitor attorney fee payments;

7.  Receive and investigate complaints against appointed attorneys;

8.  Maintain the rotation schedule of appointed attorneys;

9.  Coordinate with the Office of Court Administration and the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;

 10. Ensure compliance with the policies and standards of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission;

 11. Assist in the County Reporting Plan and obtaining Technical  Report Grants; and

12. Perform all other duties designated by the Criminal Courts Board.

Prompt Magistration
10/31/2019

A.    Arresting Officer Responsibilities

                                i.            The arresting officer, or the person having custody of the arrestee, shall ensure that every arrestee shall be brought before a magistrate without unnecessary delay, but not later than 48 hours after the person is arrested. 

                              ii.            Unless arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant, bench warrant, capias, or other order of a magistrate or judge, necessary forms establishing probable cause must be completed and filed at the time an arrestee is booked into jail for any felony or misdemeanor punishable by incarceration.

                            iii.             Release of Defendants Arrested Without Warrant

1.      A person arrested for a misdemeanor without a warrant and who is detained in jail must be released not later than the 24th hour after arrest, on a bond in an amount not to exceed $5,000, if a magistrate has not determined that probable cause exists to believe that the person committed the offense. 

2.      A person arrested for a felony without a warrant and who is detained in jail must be released not later than the 48th hour after arrest, on a bond in an amount not to exceed $10,000, if a magistrate has not determined that probable cause exists to believe that the person committed the offense. 

3.      If requested by the state, a magistrate may postpone the release of the defendant for not more than 72 hours after the defendant's arrest if a probable cause determination has not been made, in compliance with the procedure set forth in Article 17.033, Tx. C.C.P.

B.     Magistrate Duties

                                i.            At the Magistrate’s hearing, the magistrate should determine if accused can speak and understand English, or if the defendant is deaf.

                              ii.            After making such determination, the magistrate shall, in an appropriate manner consistent with Tx C.C.P. Articles 38.30 and 38.31, do the following:

1.      Advise the accused of the accusation against him/her and any affidavit filed therewith;

2.      Admonish the accused of:

a.       The right to retain counsel;

b.      The right to remain silent;

c.       The right to have an attorney present during any interview with peace officers or attorneys representing the state;

d.      The right to terminate an interview at any time;

e.       The right not to make a statement and that any statement made by the accused may be used against him/her; and

f.       The right to an Examining Trial.

3.      Inform the accused of the right to appointed counsel if the person cannot afford counsel and the procedures for requesting appointment of counsel;

4.      Inquire as to whether accused is requesting that counsel be appointed;

5.      Provide accused persons requesting appointed counsel with necessary forms for requesting appointment of counsel and ensure that reasonable assistance in completing required forms is provided to the accused at the time of the magistrate’s hearing;

6.      If the magistrate has reason to believe the accused is not mentally competent, the magistrate shall enter a request for counsel on behalf of the accused. Such a request will alert the appointing authority that counsel competent to represent mentally ill persons should be appointed.

                            iii.            In cases where the individual was arrested without an arrest warrant, bench warrant, capias, or other order of magistrate or judge, the magistrate shall determine if there is probable cause to believe the person committed the offense.

1.      If probable cause has not been determined by a magistrate:

a.       A person arrested for a misdemeanor must be released on bond, in an amount not to exceed $5,000, not later than 24 hours after the person's arrest.

b.      A person arrested for a felony must be released on bond, in an amount not to exceed $10,000, not later than 48 hours after the person’s arrest.

c.       If requested by the state, the magistrate may postpone the release of the defendant for not more than 72 hours after the defendant's arrest, in compliance with the procedure set forth in Article 17.033, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

                            iv.            The magistrate shall set the amount of bail and any conditions of bond for the accused, if bail is allowed by law and has not been set by the court or magistrate issuing a warrant.

                              v.            The magistrate shall record the following:

1.      The date and time the accused was arrested and the date and time when he/she was brought before the magistrate.

2.      Whether the magistrate informed the accused of the right to request appointment of counsel and asked the accused whether he/she wants to request counsel.

3.      Whether the accused requested appointment of counsel

                            vi.            If the magistrate is not authorized to appoint counsel and if the accused requests appointment of counsel, the magistrate shall transmit or cause to be transmitted the magistrate form and any other forms requesting appointment of counsel to Counsel Coordinator. The forms requesting appointment of counsel shall be transmitted without unnecessary delay, but not later than 24 hours after the person arrested requests appointment of counsel.

                          vii.            If the magistrate is authorized to appoint counsel, the magistrate shall make a determination of indigence based upon the defendant's completion of the affidavit of indigence (Model Version 3, adopted 11/15/06-Task Force on Indigent Defense) and appoint counsel if the defendant is indigent within three working days unless the County has a U.S. Census population over 250,000, in which case counsel shall be appointed within one working day.

                        viii.            If a request for counsel was made at magistration, the appointing authority shall forward the magistrate form and any other forms requesting appointment of counsel to the appropriate clerk to be put into the case file.

                            ix.            If a request for counsel was not made at magistration, the magistrate will forward the magistrate form to the clerk to be put into the case file.

               x.     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
10/31/2019

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 any of the following conditions or factors are present:

1.      At the time of requesting appointed counsel, the accused or 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 _100_% of the Poverty Guidelines as revised annually by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and published in the Federal Register; or

3.      The accused 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.

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 appointing authority shall take into account:

1.      the nature of the criminal 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 accused and the accused’s dependents; 

5.      accused’s income,

6.      source of income;

7.      assets and property owned;

8.      outstanding obligations;

9.      necessary expenses;

10.  the number and ages of dependents; and

11.  spousal income that is available to the accused.

iii.            Factors  NOT to be considered in determining indigence:

1.      The accused’s posting of bail or ability to post bail may not be considered in determining whether the accused is indigent except to the extent that it reflects the defendant's financial circumstances as measured by the considerations listed herein.

2.      The resources available to friends or relatives of the accused may not be considered in determining whether the accused is indigent.

iv.    Only the accused'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 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 time lines specified in this Plan and contained in Texas 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 pend ency of the charges or, if convicted, as court costs the amount that it finds the defendant is able to pay.

Minimum Attorney Qualifications
10/31/2019

An alternative program method using "public defenders" and a system of rotation may be used in appointing legal counsel for indigent defendants. "Public Defenders" are appointed by the Criminal Courts Board and will primarily handle indigent defendants who may wish to dispose of their cases expediately prior to trial. "Rotation Defenders" are appointed to defendants sequentially and when defendants to replace "Public Defenders" for trials. Only qualified attorneys who volunteer will be considered for appointment on felony cases as either "Public Defenders" or "Rotation Attorneys".  All applicants must meet the following minimum qualifications to be considered:

FOR TRIAL APPOINTMENTS:

1.  A minimum of 5 years experience or 10 felony jury trials; AND

2.  A minimum of 25% of practice in criminal law matters; AND

3.  A minimum of 15 hours of certified CLE credit annually in criminal law matters.  No self study hours will be counted; AND

4.  In the last 5 years, never have been found to provided ineffective representation by an appellate court or a Bar disciplinary committee OR if so, after providing details receive a waiver from the Criminal Courts Board; AND

5.  Receive approval from the Criminal Courts Board by majority vote.

 

FOR APPELLATE APPOINTMENTS:

1.  A minimum of 5 years experience OR 10 appellate cases; AND

2.  List the name, offense, cause number and court for all felony appellate cases  in the last 5 years up to a maximum of 10; AND

3.  A minimum of 25% of practice in criminal law matters; AND

4.  Meet the same CLE requirements as Trial Attorneys; AND

5.  Meet the same effective assistance test as Trial Attorneys herein; AND

6.  Receive approval from the Criminal Courts Board by majority vote.


ATTORNEY REPORTING INSTRUCTIONS AND FORM

Article 26.04(j) of the Code of Criminal Procedure requires all attorneys who accept appointments in adult criminal and juvenile delinquency cases to submit an annual statement that describes the percentage of their practice time that is dedicated to work on those appointed cases. Attorneys must submit this statement to each county in which they accept appointments, and the county will forward the information contained in the attorney practice-time statements to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. The Commission will add this information to other indigent defense information that is made available to the public via the Commission website.

Therefore, every year, each appointed attorney is required to submit a practice-time statement for which the attorney accepted an appointment in an adult criminal or juvenile delinquency case during a fiscal year period that begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The statement is due no later than October 15 immediately following the close of each fiscal year. 

The statement submitted to each county must describe (1) the percentage of an attorney’s total practice time (time spent in legal practice in all jurisdictions) that was dedicated to work on trial and appeal appointments in adult criminal cases in that county’s district and county courts during the fiscal year beginning on the preceding October 1; and (2) the percentage of an attorney’s total practice time that was dedicated to work on trial and appeal appointments in juvenile delinquency cases (cases alleging delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision) in that county’s district and county courts during the fiscal year beginning on the preceding October 1.  The percentages reported in the practice-time statement submitted to each county should not include time dedicated to work on appointments to cases (such as CPS cases and guardianship cases) that are not adult criminal or juvenile delinquency cases, and should not include time dedicated to
federal criminal appointments.

The attorney SHALL submit the practice-time statement via the Commission’s electronic attorney reporting portal, on the attached Commission reporting form, or on any other physical or electronic
form specified by the county that captures all of the information requested on the Commission form.  A county may require attorneys who accept appointments in that county to use a specific method to submit their practice-time statements.  However, the statement should provide percentages that are as accurate as possible given the attorney’s chosen case management system.

Attorneys who keep time records for all or a portion of their caseload may use those records to calculate their practice-time percentages or, in the case of partial records, to complete some of the
lines on the worksheet. Time records will provide the most accurate method for calculating practicetime percentages.

Attorneys who do not keep time records may consider using a case-counting methodology to calculate practice-time percentages. This methodology involves looking at the number and types of
cases in an attorney’s total caseload, and calculating practice time percentages based on the number of cases in different case type categories. An attorney may keep track of the number and types of
different cases the attorney handles during an entire fiscal year, or may choose to base the calculation on the number of cases the attorney has open at a specific point in time.

Attorneys who do not keep time records or use the case counting methodology will be encouraged to use the worksheet to help them consider all of the types of cases they handle when calculating
their practice-time percentages. The worksheet will be designed to help attorneys avoid over- or under-estimating the percentage of time they spend on appointments and report to the county.

PENALTIES

Penalties for failing to submit a required practice-time statement by the October 15 due date may be prescribed by the judges trying criminal cases in each county. Penalties may include an attorney’s
removal from the list of attorneys eligible to receive future court appointments.

TEXAS INDIGENT DEFENSE COMMISSION ATTORNEY REPORTING FORM


JEFFERSON COUNTY, TEXAS


Under Article 26.04(j), Code of Criminal Procedure, attorneys are required to report to each county in which they accept appointments the percentage of their total practice time that is dedicated to appointed adult criminal cases and juvenile delinquency cases in that county. This form must be submitted annually to each county no later than October 15. Please see the Attorney Reporting Instructions published by the Commission for additional information about this form.

1. During the preceding fiscal year (October 1 – September 30), ___% of my total practice time was dedicated to work on adult criminal cases in which I was appointed to represent the defendant in ________ County, Texas.

2. During the preceding fiscal year (October 1 – September 30), ___% of my total practice time was dedicated to work on juvenile delinquency cases (cases alleging delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision) in which I was appointed to represent the juvenile in ________ County, Texas.

3. The percentage of practice time reported was determined primarily by:

Time records_______;
Case counts________;
Combination of time records and case counts_______.
Other ___________________________________________________


______________________________________ ___________________

Attorney Name                                                      State Bar of Texas No.                                              

______________________________________ ____________________
Attorney Signature                                                 Date


Prompt Appointment of Counsel
10/31/2019

The Counsel Coordinator will appoint a "Public Defender" or "Rotation Attorney" to represent each qualified indigent defendant at arraignment and at the necessary times in accordance with Article 26.04 of Tx.C.C.P.   In compliance with  Art. 26.04 Tx.C.C.P., the appointed attorney shall make contact with the defendant not later than the end of the first working day after appointment and interview the defendant as soon as practicable after the attorney is appointed.

The "Public Defender" or "Rotation Attorney" shall continue to represent the defendant until  the case is disposed of or, unless relieved by the court or replaced by other counsel, after a finding of good cause is entered in the record. If a defendant with an appointed "Public Defender" wishes to place his case on the trial docket, good cause maybe shown if the defendany voluntarily agrees to replace the "Public Defender" with a "Rotation Attorney". If a "Public Defender"  is relieved, the trial judge shall immediately appoint another "Public Defender" or "Rotation Attorney" as a replacement.  The replacement attorney shall make every reasonable effort to contact with the defendant not later than the end of the first working day after appointment and interview the defendant as soon as practicable.

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.  Unrepresented defendants will be told of the right to counsel and the procedures for requesting counsel.  If the defendant is determined to be indigent, a "Public Defender" or " Rotation Attorney" will be immediately appointed.  The appointed attorney shall make contact with and interview the defendant in the same manner as if the defendant was in custody.

A "Public Defender" may not receive appointments to represent indigents in any other court without the specific approval of the appointing judge.  A "Public Defender" may have a limited private practice but priority must always be given to cases pending in the Court of the appointing judge.

Each appointed attorney is to become familiar with this plan.


IV. Appoint Counsel Promptly (Adults – County Population Greater than 250,000)

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 first 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 one working day 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 http://tidc.tamu.edu/public.net/ or from: The Jefferson County Jail Intake/Book in Division. The defendant may submit these forms to: The Magistrate Judge.

The court will rule on all requests for counsel submitted in this manner.

vi. Appointment Authority

  1. If no case has been filed in the trial court, the appointing authority for felonies is: The Magistrate Judge.

  B. Defendants Appearing Without Counsel - If a defendant appears without counsel in any adversary judicial proceeding that may result in punishment by confinement:

i. 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.

ii. 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, subsequent to the denial, the defendant:

1. Has been given a reasonable opportunity to retain and has failed to retain appointed counsel; or

2. Waived or has waived the opportunity to retain private counsel.

iii. The attorney representing the state may not:

1. Initiate or encourage an attempt to obtain from the defendant a waiver of the right to counsel; or

2. Communicate with a defendant who has requested the appointment of counsel, unless the appointing authority has denied the request and subsequent to the denial, the defendant:

a. Has been given a reasonable opportunity to retain counsel; or

b. Waives or has waived the opportunity to retain private counsel.

C. Waiver of the Right to Counsel

i. A defendant may voluntarily and intelligently waive the right to counsel.

ii. A waiver obtained in violation of section IV.B above is presumed invalid.

iii. If a defendant wishes to waive the right to counsel for purposes of entering a guilty plea or proceeding to trial, the court shall advise the defendant of the nature of the charges against the defendant and, if the defendant is proceeding to trial, the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation. If the court determines that the waiver is voluntarily and intelligently waived, the court shall provide the defendant with a statement substantially in the following form, which, if signed by the defendant, shall be filed with and become part of the record of the proceedings.

“I have been advised this ___ day of ____, 2___, by the (name of court) Court of my right to representation by counsel in the case pending against me. I have been further advised that if I am unable to afford counsel, one will be appointed for me free of charge. Understanding my right to have counsel appointed for me free of charge if I am not financially able to employ counsel, I wish to waive that right and request the court to proceed with my case without an attorney being appointed for me. I hereby waive my right to counsel. (signature of defendant)”

iv. A defendant may withdraw a waiver of the right to counsel at any time but is not entitled to repeat a proceeding previously held or waived solely on the grounds of the subsequent appointment or retention of counsel. If the defendant withdraws a waiver, the trial court, in its discretion, may provide the appointed counsel 10 days to prepare.




Attorney Selection Process
10/31/2019

FELONY CASES;

Attorneys will be selected and appointed on a rotation basis from the Master list unless a "Public Defender" is used in the case.

DEATH PENALTY CASES:

Once a capital indictment is returned where the State seeks the death penalty, only attorneys approved by a local selection committee created for the local Administrative Judicial  Region will be appointed as provided in Art. 26.052 Tx.C.C.P.

PUBLIC DEFENDERS:

Each Court may designate one or more attorneys as "Public Defenders" on a monthly fee basis.  In addition to required qualifications, each "Public  Defender" must be selected based on demonstrated past professional skill and performance in the representation of defendants in felony cases.

In selecting "Public Defenders", the Court shall consider at least the following factors when evaluating applicants:

1.  The experience and qualifications of the applicant

2.  Applicant's past performance in representing defendants in felony criminal cases.

3.  Applicant's disciplinary history with the State Bar.

4.  Applicant's ability to professionally, ethically and effectively comply with assignments.

The Board may approve contracts with "Public Defenders" who meet all of the Board requirements and enter into an agreement for services.  The Board shall enter such agreement only if it complies with these qualifications and standards and all applicable laws governing professional service agreements entered into by counties.

All procedures shall meet the requirements of Title 1, Part 8, Chapter 174, Subchapter B of the Texas Administrative Code concerning Contract Defender Program Requirements.

Each "Public Defender" shall perform any duties designated by the appointing judge designed to insure prompt, effective and professional representation of indigent felony defendants.

Fee and Expense Payment Process
10/31/2019

A.    Court appointed  "Rotation" counsel shall be compensated for reasonable and appropriate services rendered in representing the accused and in accordance with Article 26.05 Tx.C.C.P. Compensation shall be reasonable for time and effort expended and will be in accordance with a fee schedule adopted and approved by a majority of the judges hearing criminal cases in the county.

B.     Payment Process:  No payment of attorney’s fees will be made other than in accordance with the rules set forth below.

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

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

1.      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.

2.      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.

C.     Payment of Expenses:

                                i.            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.

                              ii.            Procedure With Prior Court Approval:

1.      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 the below, as applicable:

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

b.      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

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

2.      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:

a.       State the reasons for the denial in writing;

b.      Attach the denial to the confidential request; and

c.       Submit the request and denial as a sealed exhibit to the record.

                            iii.            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.

FEE PAYMENT SCHEDULE;

For "Public Defenders"; An amount not to exceed $8750 per month per attorney

For  "Rotation Attorneys":

Disposition:

Plea of Guilty or Dismissal:  Single Case $800; Multiple Cases $900; State Jail Single Case $600; State Jail Multiple Cases: $700.

Out of Court Hours: $75/hour with authorized time sheet

Trial: $500 per half day

Appeal:

$750 for appeal of a single case Jury Trial; $850 Multiple Cases Jury Trial;   $1500 for appeal of multiple cases on the same defendant.  $10,000 for appeal of a capital case where the death penalty is assessed.  $250 Non-trial and Motion to Revoke Probation.

Death Penalty Cases:

Lead Counsel, $1500 per half day in trial.  Second Chair, $1000 per half day in trial.  An additional amount for trial preparation when documented and approved in advance by the trial judge.

Investigator/Expert Witness:

Expenses incurred with prior Court approval shall be reimbursed if the request is reasonable.  Expenses incurred without prior Court approval shall be reimbursed if the expense is deemed by the Criminal Courts Board reasonably necessary and reasonably incurred.

Interpreters:

If the defendant does not speak English or is deaf, the Court shall obtain the services of an appropriate interpreter to be present during all court proceedings and at all meetings between the Public Defender or Rotation Attorney and the defendant pursuant to Articles 38.30 and 38.31, Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure.  The Court will pay all reasonable costs involved.

Fee Payment Voucher;

All fee claims must be submitted on a voucher approved by the Board and that can be obtained from the Counsel Coordinator or Court Clerk.

 

Miscellaneous
10/31/2019

COMPLAINTS:

All complaints against a "Public Defender" or "Rotation Attorney" will be referred to the Counsel Coordinator for investigation.  All complaints will be reviewed periodically.  An appointed attorney may be removed by a majority vote of the Criminal Courts Board.  The attorney must receive notice of the complaint and have the opportunity to be heard by the Board before any decision is made.  The Board may appoint one experienced defense attorney to be present during the hearing and advise the Board.  All such hearings will be closed.  All proceedings and the Board's vote will be confidential.  The attorney is entitled to be represented by Counsel at the hearing and the results of the Board vote will be given to the the attorney and the person filing the complaint.

SUSPENSION OR REMOVAL:

A "Public Defender" or "Rotation Attorney" who fails to properly and professionally follow all of the rules and procedures adopted by the Courts or fails to provide timely and effective representation may be suspended or removed from the qualified list by majority vote of the Board.  Removed attorneys may reapply one year after removal or earlier if permitted by the Board.

APPEALS:

A "Public Defender" or "Rotation Attorney" may appeal any matters regarding this plan to the Criminal Courts Board.

WAIVERS:

Each Trial Court retains authority to waive or alter any portion of this plan in exceptionally justified cases or when determined necessary for the fair and impartial administration of justice.  To insure prompt and effective representation, any judge may depart from this plan in exceptional circumstances when the interest of justice require.

ADOPTED October 26, 2017 by the Criminal Courts Board:

Judge John Stevens, Criminal District Judge

Judge Raquel West, 252nd District Court Judge

Plan Documents
Jefferson District Court Affidavit of Indigence.pdf (10/27/2017 11:57:22 AM) view
Jefferson District Court Appointment of Counsel Updated.pdf (10/27/2017 11:58:14 AM) view
Jefferson District Court Attorney Application for Appointment.pdf (10/27/2017 12:02:15 PM) view
Jefferson District Court Attorney Fee Schedule.doc (12/14/2012 3:41:43 PM) view
Jefferson District Court Attorney Fee Voucher.pdf (10/27/2017 12:03:33 PM) view
Jefferson District Court Contracts for Indigent Defense Services.pdf (1/11/2021 12:35:22 PM) view