Court Appointments March 11, 2013
The CAA is individually and primarily responsible to the Court for the defendant’s representation. Members of the CAA’s legally organized law firm may appear in Court on behalf of the Defendant in place of the CAA only if
a) They have met with and advised the defendant prior to the appearance, or
b) If the CAA has a legitimate conflict. Repeated failure of the CAA to appear with defendants in Court may result in removal of the CAA from the court-appointment list.
Payment for Initial Interview in Court-Appointed Cases
In 2012, the County Courts at Law revised the initial visit fee policy to allow payment to the CAA for initial interviews occurring in locations other than the jail. The purpose was 2-fold:
To compensate CAAs in a manner consistent with district court procedures, and
To encourage prompt interviews with defendants following appointment.
26.04(j)(1), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, requires the CAA to contact the defendant no later than the end of the 1st working day after the date of appointment, and to interview the defendant as soon as practicable after the appointment. [Subsection (k) reflects the importance of subsection (j) to the Legislature.]
The CAA must personally conduct the initial interview:
By video-conference or in person with the defendant in jail;
In the CAA’s office; or
In the courtroom, (subject to certain restrictions.)
The “initial contact” is not considered an “initial interview” for initial interview (formerly “initial visit”) requisition purposes unless it includes an initial interview with the defendant. The term “visit” is synonymous with “interview.”
Only 1 initial interview is required, and only 1 initial interview requisition may be submitted per defendant, regardless of the number of cases or when the attorney is appointed on those cases. The only exception will be if, following final disposition of all of the CAA’s cases for that defendant, the CAA receives a another appointment for the defendant.
If a CAA is assigned to both felony and misdemeanor cases for a defendant, the initial interview requisition may only be filed in the District Court.
In accordance with local rules, the initial interview must occur within 10 days after the date of appointment. A requisition for initial interviews occurring after 10 days must be accompanied by a written statement from the attorney demonstrating good cause for the delay and due diligence by the attorney to attempting to conduct the interview, or they will be rejected. A simple indication on the face of the form will suffice, unless a more substantial explanation appears appropriate.
Requisitions may not be submitted for an “in court” initial interview which occurs on a date the defendant is scheduled to appear in Court subsequent to the date of the appointment of the attorney.
Payment for Services Other Than Initial Interview in Court-Appointed Cases
CAA payment requisitions containing errors, duplicating previous requisitions, or seeking payment in individual cases resolved in the same transaction are becoming a problem.
Claims for payment for any matters disposed of in the same transaction must be submitted in a single requisition, showing information for all matters, other than the case in which the requisition is filed, in the section entitled “Enter additional cases disposed of in this transaction.”
The term “the same transaction” includes, but is not limited to cases resolved in court in the same proceedings. “The same transaction” also includes multiple cases resolved in a single plea agreement, regardless of when or where the formalities or mechanics are completed, as well as multiple cases resolved in different courts on the same date.
Pending, filed cases pled during the same proceedings in the same court must be combined in one requisition.
Pending, filed cases pled in different courts on the same day must be combined in 1 requisition, submitted in either court.
Requisitions for 2 or more cases involving motions to revoke probation or motions to adjudicate guilt may be filed separately only when those cases are heard separately in different courts or by separate judges, (e.g. 2 revocation cases, 1 heard in CCL#1 and the other in CCL #2; however, 3 revocation cases, 1 heard in CCL #1 and 2 heard in CCL #2, a single requisition must be submitted in CCL #2 reflecting both cases.)
A plea agreement is reached which provides for the refusal or dismissal of a charge or charges and the defendant’s plea to one or more other cases. A dismissal is filed or a DA letter of disposition is generated prior to or after the court proceedings. The dismissal/refusal must be included in the requisition for the plea(s).
A cause with multiple counts is considered a single case for purposes of a CAA requisition.
Requisitions are mandatory elements of the “plea papers,” and must be submitted at the time of the court proceedings. If a claim for payment is submitted for multiple cases pending in different Courts, but after by a single Judge, it must be submitted to the Judge who actually heard the cases. (Note: The filing of separate requisitions for cases pending in different Courts but heard by 1 Judge will be considered a serious violation of the rules and could result in your removal from the CAA list.)
A request to depart from the fixed payment scale adopted by the Courts should be itemized. If the CAA itemizes his/her time on any case, the requisition must also itemize for all other cases disposed of in the same transaction.
Any service reported on an itemized requisition which was performed by the attorney’s staff (e.g. paralegal research and drafting, legal assistant’s telephone calls to client, interviews by non-attorney staff) must be reported as such, and will be paid accordingly.
If a CAA ceases to practice criminal law, either permanently or for an extended period of time, or changes his/her primary office to another county or State, the attorney will be removed from the CAA list and all pending cases will be reassigned to another CAA on the regular rotation.
Procedure for Jail Pleas March 11, 2013
Unless amended herein, all existing procedures for jail pleas remain in effect.
Beginning March 21, 2013, jail pleas will be heard by attorney in the order that the Court Administrator receives your last set of completed plea documents, not in the order the attorney checks in at the McLennan County Jail. The earlier all of your plea papers for all defendants are processed in the Administrator’s office, the earlier your cases will be heard on the jail docket.
As the attorney turns in plea papers, you will print your name on a list in the administrator’s office. If you deliver additional or corrected plea papers, or plea papers for other defendants, at a later time, your name will be moved to the end of the list.
Multiple defendants represented by the same attorney will be bundled automatically into 1 group, based upon the time the entire group (i.e. all defendants) of completed papers is received in the Administrator’s office.
The jail personnel will adopt a check-in deadline for attorneys reporting for jail pleas. All defendants whose attorney does not personally check in by that deadline will be moved to or placed at the end of the list by the Sheriff’s office, in the order the attorney arrives.