Hunt District Court and County Court Plan
Preamble
10/16/2013

 

 

 

 

 

Prompt Magistration
10/9/2013

HUNT COUNTY ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM AND

STANDING RULES AND ORDERS FOR

PROCEDURES FOR PROMPT MAGISTRATION

FOR INDIGENT ACCUSED PERSONS IN

HUNT COUNTY, TEXAS

 

EFECTIVE DATE – NOVEMBER 1, 2013

 

     Be it remembered that on this date the undersigned County Court at Law Judges and District Court Judges for Hunt County, Texas hereby adopt, order, establish and order published these countywide procedures, rules, and orders for the timely and fair appointments of all counsel for indigent accused persons charged in Hunt County, Texas.  This document is the Hunt County Alternative Program to conform with the requirements of S.B. 7 passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law in 2001 (Hereinafter referred to as the Fair Defense Act).

 

(1.)       ESTABLISHING PROCEDURES TO ENSURE PROMPT MAGISTRATION AND TIMELY APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL

 

     The following procedures will be used to ensure that defense counsel are appointed within the time limits specified in the Fair Defense Act, including these five steps:

 

·        Police take each person arrested before a magistrate – The Fair Defense Act requires anyone with custody to an arrested person to take the person before a magistrate for a hearing pursuant to Article 15.17 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter called Article 15.17 Hearing) without unnecessary delay and no later than 48 hours after arrest.

 

·        The magistrate informs the arrested person of the right to request counsel and how the request may be made- The Fair Defense Act requires that reasonable assistance in completing counsel request forms be provided to the person at the time of the Article 15.17 hearing.  A “record” must also be made showing (i) that the magistrate informed the accused person of the right to request appointed counsel, (ii) that the magistrate asked the person whether he or she wanted to request counsel, and (iii) whether the person requested counsel.  A “record” under this situation may consist of a written document, an electronic recording, or other documentation.

 

·        The magistrate transmits the request (i.e. a completed application form) to the appointing authority designated by the judges – Local rules designate a jail magistrate must transmit the defendant’s request for counsel to the appointing authority within 24 hours: to a County Court at Law Judge in misdemeanor cases; to the 354th District Judge for January – June or to the 196th District Judge for July – December for felony cases.  The District Judge may make the felony appointment include misdemeanor representation.  The appointing authorities shall furnish the application forms to the jail magistrate.

 

·        The judge appoints counsel-The Fair Defense Act requires judges to appoint counsel “as soon as possible” after receiving a request but always within the third working day after the request is received.  The Fair Defense Act provides that where an indigent defendant is released from custody prior to appointment of counsel, appointment is not required until the defendant’s first court appearance or when adversarial judicial proceedings are initiated, which ever comes first.

 

·        Appointed attorneys contact their clients – Fair Defense Act requires appointed attorneys to make every reasonable effort to contact their clients by the end of the first working day after the attorney receives notice of appointment and to interview the defendant as soon as practicable after the attorney is appointed.

Indigence Determination Standards
10/7/2013

HUNT COUNTY ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM AND

STANDING RULES AND ORDERS FOR

PROCEDURES FOR INDIGENCE DETERMINATION STANDARDS

FOR INDIGENT ACCUSED PERSONS IN

HUNT COUNTY, TEXAS

 

EFECTIVE DATE – NOVEMBER 1, 2013

 

     Be it remembered that on this date the undersigned County Court at Law Judges and District Court Judges for Hunt County, Texas hereby adopt, order, establish and order published these countywide procedures, rules, and orders for the timely and fair appointments of all counsel for indigent accused persons charged in Hunt County, Texas.  This document is the Hunt County Alternative Program to conform with the requirements of S.B. 7 passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law in 2001 (Hereinafter referred to as the Fair Defense Act).

 

(1)       PROCEDURES AND FINANCIALS STANDARDS FOR DETERMINING INDIGENCE STATUS

 

A.     Eligibility for Appointment

                                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.

 

The judge making court appointments for counsel for indigents shall consider the following standards for determining indigence and such other reasonable factors as the court finds bearing on the financial inability of a defendant to retain counsel:

 

a.       Defendant’s income;

b.      Sources of the defendant’s income;

c.       Assets of the defendant;

d.      Property owned by the defendant, or in which the defendant has an interest;

e.       Outstanding obligation of the defendant;

f.        Necessary expenses of the defendant;

g.       The number and age of the defendant’s legal dependants;

h.       Spousal income available to the defendant; and

i.         Such other reasonable factors as determined by the judge including Federal Standards for relief support.

 

     The judge shall not consider whether the defendant has posted bail, except to the extent that it reflects on the defendant’s financial circumstances as measured by the listed factors.

Minimum Attorney Qualifications
10/9/2013

HUNT COUNTY ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM AND

STANDING RULES AND ORDERS FOR

PROCEDURES FOR MINIMUM ATTORNEY QUALIFICATIONS

FOR INDIGENT ACCUSED PERSONS IN

HUNT COUNTY, TEXAS

 

EFECTIVE DATE – NOVEMBER 1, 2013

 

Be it remembered that on this date the undersigned County Court at Law Judges and District Court Judges for Hunt County, Texas hereby adopt, order, establish and order published these countywide procedures, rules, and orders for the timely and fair appointments of all counsel for indigent accused persons charged in Hunt County, Texas.  This document is the Hunt County Alternative Program to conform with the requirements of S.B. 7 passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law in 2001 (Hereinafter referred to as the Fair Defense Act).

(1)  QUALIFICATIONS FOR COURT APPOINTED COUNSEL

 

     

Court appointed counsel shall comply with all laws, rules, procedures, and ethical provisions for providing reasonable assistance of counsel to their client.

 

Court appointed counsel shall maintain a high standard of ethical conduct and always be completely candid with the trial court.

 

Court appointed counsel shall timely inform their client of matter relating to the preparation, trial, and disposition of the case; appellate and writ right,  deadlines, and procedures for proper processing, and such other matters as necessary to provide reasonable assistance of counsel.

 

Court appointed counsel shall represent a defendant until the Court relieves the attorney and/or replaces the attorney with other counsel.

 

Court appointed counsel shall meet the following standards:

 

1.      Be a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas;

 

2.      Professionally perform duties and responsibilities of a licensed attorney for the State of Texas; and

 

3.      Complete annually such Continuing Legal Education programs as required by the Texas Judicial Council and local rules of Hunt County for attorneys representing indigent accused persons, which shall average at least 8 hours of Continuing Legal Education in handling criminal cases per year.

 

4.  Shall maintain a principal office or reside in Hunt County, Texas.

 

5.   An attoney 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 Hunt County for adult criminal cases for the prior 12 months that begins on October 1 and ends on September 30.  The report must be submitted through the online form to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.

  

A court may replace an attorney if the appointed attorney does not make an effort to contact the defendant by the end of the first working day after receiving notice or does not interview the defendant as soon as possible, or may sanction said attorney for violation of those provisions. 

A majority of the appointing judges trying criminal cases in the county may remove an attorney from consideration for appointments, if the attorney intentionally or repeatedly does not fulfill the duties required by law, rules, local rules, or provisions for providing reasonable assistance of counsel or complying with the requirements for inclusion on the approved list for counsel for indigent accused persons.

Prompt Appointment of Counsel
10/9/2013

HUNT COUNTY ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM AND

STANDING RULES AND ORDERS FOR

PROCEDURES FOR PROMPT APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL

FOR INDIGENT ACCUSED PERSONS IN

HUNT COUNTY, TEXAS

 

EFECTIVE DATE – NOVEMBER 1, 2013

 

     Be it remembered that on this date the undersigned County Court at Law Judges and District Court Judges for Hunt County, Texas hereby adopt, order, establish and order published these countywide procedures, rules, and orders for the timely and fair appointments of all counsel for indigent accused persons charged in Hunt County, Texas.  This document is the Hunt County Alternative Program to conform with the requirements of S.B. 7 passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law in 2001 (Hereinafter referred to as the Fair Defense Act).

 

(1.)       ESTABLISHING PROCEDURES TO ENSURE PROMPT APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL

 

  A.  The following procedures will be used to ensure that defense counsel are appointed within the time limits specified in the Fair Defense Act,  including these five steps:

 

·        Police take each person arrested before a magistrate – The Fair Defense Act requires anyone with custody to an arrested person to take the person before a magistrate for a hearing pursuant to Article 15.17 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter called Article 15.17 Hearing) without unnecessary delay and no later than 48 hours after arrest.

 

·        The magistrate informs the arrested person of the right to request counsel and how the request may be made- The Fair Defense Act requires that reasonable assistance in completing counsel request forms be provided to the person at the time of the Article 15.17 hearing.  A “record” must also be made showing (i) that the magistrate informed the accused person of the right to request appointed counsel, (ii) that the magistrate asked the person whether he or she wanted to request counsel, and (iii) whether the person requested counsel.  A “record” under this situation may consist of a written document, an electronic recording, or other documentation.

 

·        The magistrate transmits the request (i.e. a completed application form) to the appointing authority designated by the judges – Local rules designate a jail magistrate must transmit the defendant’s request for counsel to the appointing authority within 24 hours: to a County Court at Law Judge in misdemeanor cases; to the 354th District Judge for January – June or to the 196th District Judge for July – December for felony cases.  The District Judge may make the felony appointment include misdemeanor representation.  The appointing authorities shall furnish the application forms to the jail magistrate.

 

·        The judge appoints counsel-The Fair Defense Act requires judges to appoint counsel “as soon as possible” after receiving a request but always within the third working day after the request is received.  The Fair Defense Act provides that where an indigent defendant is released from custody prior to appointment of counsel, appointment is not required until the defendant’s first court appearance or when adversarial judicial proceedings are initiated, which ever comes first.

 

·        Appointed attorneys contact their clients – Fair Defense Act requires appointed attorneys to make every reasonable effort to contact their clients by the end of the first working day after the attorney receives notice of appointment and to interview the defendant as soon as practicable after the attorney is appointed.

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.

 

Attorney Selection Process
10/7/2013

HUNT COUNTY ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM AND

STANDING RULES AND ORDERS FOR

PROCEDURES FOR ATTORNEY SELECTION PROCESS

FOR INDIGENT ACCUSED PERSONS IN

HUNT COUNTY, TEXAS

 

EFECTIVE DATE - NOVEMBER 1, 2013

 

Be it remembered that on this date the undersigned County Court at Law Judges and District Court Judges for Hunt County, Texas hereby adopt, order, establish and order published these countywide procedures, rules, and orders for the timely and fair appointments of all counsel for indigent accused persons charged in Hunt County, Texas.  This document is the Hunt County Alternative Program to conform with the requirements of S.B. 7 passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law in 2001 (Hereinafter referred to as the Fair Defense Act).

 

(1) PROCEDURES FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL:

 

The appointing judge will appoint counsel from a list composed of those attorneys who filed an application and were approved by the four judges handling criminal cases in Hunt County.  The Judges shall appoint attorneys from the next five names on the list, unless the unavailability of that attorney, the fact that the defendant does not speak English, the seriousness of the crime charged or other good cause on the record exists to appoint an attorney out of order to dictate skipping the next named attorney on the list.  In the absence of any appointing judge, any of the other appointing judges may appoint for the absent judge.

Fee and Expense Payment Process
10/7/2013

HUNT COUNTY ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM AND

STANDING RULES AND ORDERS FOR

PROCEDURES FOR FEE AND EXPENSE PAYMENT PROCESS

FOR INDIGENT ACCUSED PERSONS IN

HUNT COUNTY, TEXAS

 

EFECTIVE DATE - NOVEMBER 1, 2013

 

Be it remembered that on this date the undersigned County Court at Law Judges and District Court Judges for Hunt County, Texas hereby adopt, order, establish and order published these countywide procedures, rules, and orders for the timely and fair appointments of all counsel for indigent accused persons charged in Hunt County, Texas.  This document is the Hunt County Alternative Program to conform with the requirements of S.B. 7 passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law in 2001 (Hereinafter referred to as the Fair Defense Act).

 

The four judges hearing misdemeanor criminal cases and felony criminal cases, having approved it, this Supplemental Plan is added to and is now a part of the Plan for Appointment of Counsel as follows:

 

Attorney Fee Schedule.

The plan must specify a schedule of attorney fees that covers all criminal cases for which punishment by incarceration may be imposed, as well as all juvenile cases.  Payments shall be made in accordance with a schedule of fees adopted by the judges.  No payment shall be made until judge approves payment after submission of an attorney fee voucher.  If a judge disapproves the requested amount, the judge shall make written findings stating the amount that the judge approves and the reason(s) for disapproval of the whole amount.  An attorney whose request for payment is not acted on or disapproved within 60 days of submission may appeal the disapproval by filing a motion with the presiding regional administrative judge.

 

Article 26.05(a)-(c), Code of Criminal Procedure 

 

Refer to the Forms section of these plans for current Appointed Attorney Fee Schedule effective August 1, 2010. 

 

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
Hunt District and County Court Affidavit of Indigence.pdf (11/5/2009 4:15:39 PM) view
Hunt District and County Court Attorney Application For Appointment.pdf (10/14/2013 1:47:42 PM) view
Hunt District and County Court Attorney Fee Schedule.pdf (8/2/2010 2:26:19 PM) view
Hunt District and County Court Attorney Fee Voucher.xls (11/2/2009 9:01:26 AM) view
Hunt District and County Court Hunt District and County Court Signed Order.pdf (8/4/2010 8:39:07 AM) view
Hunt District and County Court Hunt District and County Magistrates Warning Form (Spanish).pdf (11/5/2009 4:14:32 PM) view
Hunt District and County Court Hunt District and County Magistrates Warning Form.pdf (11/5/2009 4:12:23 PM) view
Hunt District and County Court Magistrate's Warning Class C Only.pdf (10/9/2013 2:34:37 PM) view
Hunt District and County Court Magistrate’s Warning Form.pdf (10/9/2013 2:33:04 PM) view
Hunt District and County Court Signed Order.pdf (11/9/2009 10:01:50 AM) view