Sunday, December 28, 2014




COMAL COUNTY TO ALLOW INDIGENT DEFENDANTS TO CHOOSE THEIR OWN DEFENSE COUNSEL AT COUNTY EXPENSE

The lawyers will be from a preapproved list and know how much they will be paid per hour.  It is not like the defendant will be allowed to choose a lawyer who normally gets $500 an hour.

"The issue of trust has long been part of a larger discussion about the quality of indigent defense in the U.S. Now, the Central Texas county where Vaughn works will be the first in the country to give these individuals the ability to choose their own attorneys at the government's expense.
It's part of a pilot program in Comal County that could determine whether the idea could be adopted in other jurisdictions and provide a new wrinkle to how the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments are exercised."

Click for full Story

I was never on the list to be a court appointed attorney - but one day one of my favorite judges asked that I take a case.  Side not - this guy ran as an ultra right wing Republican and would seek the votes of the most right wing voters he could find - but he worked with me in creating a program wherein gay men caught having sex in public would have the choice of facing a trial and possible conviction or deferred adjudication if they completed 6 months of therapy with one of the local predominately gay churches which had counselors willing to volunteer, or with a private therapist - my point is - he was a cool judge.

Anyway I was the only one in the courtroom who spoke Spanish and he really wanted this guy to plea out so he could get him out of jail - his goal was to get him out of jail that day.  I took a good plea bargain to the guy and he said no - he was not guilty and he wanted a trial.  I explained it could mean a few more months in jail and he did not care.  I told the judge and the judge said he would find someone else to be the court appointed attorney who might be able to better convince the guy to take the plea.  So the defendant went back to the county jail until the judge could find a Spanish speaking lawyer who could convince this guy to take the plea.

The current system stinks - I like this new system - here in Cameron county it is too easy to get an attorney to throw an indigent client under the bus in exchange for an ADA going easier on a paying client.  In fact this is a state wide problem.  Under this system the lawyers who do nothing will soon get a reputation and find their court appointments will dry up as the defendants talk among themselves in jail.

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