The Commerce Journal

Local News

February 18, 2014

Clarifying indigent defense in Hunt County

COMMERCE — Editor’s note: Indigent defense has become an important issue in Hunt County, specifically in the Hunt County Judge and 196th District Judge race. After conducting research at the county and state level, here is how indigent defense is handled in Hunt County.

Hunt County spent $1,967,635.97 in indigent defense in 2013, according to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC). Of that, $1,547,664.50 was spent on attorneys’ fees. That cost was broken down as follows: $1,079,133.82 was spent on felony trial court attorney’s fees, $356,381.50 was spent on misdeamenor trial court attorney’s fees, and $74,150.00 was spent on juvenile attorney’s fees.

The county received $117,656 in 2013 in grants from the TIDC.

The rules surrounding indigent defense on the district and county court at law levels in Hunt County are established by the Hunt District and County Courts Plan, which is approved by the two district court judges, the two county court at law judges, and the county judge.

According to documentation on the TIDC website, the last time the plan was signed by the five judges was in 2010. Due to contextual errors in the plan, however, a plan was submitted by Administrative District Judge Richard Beacom in 2013. According to Beacom, that plan did not require a vote from the judges.

After the plan has been approved, the plan is submitted by the administrative district judge to the TIDC. A staff member or other judge can submit the plan to the TIDC in place of the administrative district judge, according to TIDC’s Wesley Shackelford, but the administrative district judge has to ultimately approve the submission, not the plan itself, before it is accepted by the TIDC. This is done online.

District and county courts must abide by the plan in order to receive funding from the TIDC. A second plan details how indigent defense is handled in juvenile cases.

The “Fee and Expense Payment Process” portion of the plan references a supplemental plan, approved by the four judges hearing misdemeanor criminal cases and felony criminal cases.

Those judges are the 354th District Judge, the 196th District Judge, the County Court at Law Judge No. 1 and the County Court at Law Judge No. 2. This plan sets the fee rate at which court appointed attorneys are paid by the county for representing indigent defendants.

The Hunt County Judge does not vote on the compensation of court appointed attorneys representing indigent defendants, as the Hunt County Judge does not hear misdemeanor or felony criminal cases.

However, the fee schedule is included in the overall plan that all five judges vote on. Since the supplemental plan is a standing order, there is no regular meeting to revise the rates.

According to Beacom, the last time the four judges met to discuss the fee rates was in 2010. According to an official legal opinion from Hunt County Attorney Joel Littlefield, the county judge cannot veto or amend this fee rate.

The fee rate is $100 an hour for misdemeanor and felony cases in Hunt County. In order to be eligible to be appointed by one of the four county or district judges to an indigent defender’s case, attorneys must either maintain a principal office or reside in Hunt County.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • A&M-Commerce announces guaranteed tuition plan

    Texas A&M University-Commerce will roll out a new guaranteed tuition plan called [in]tuition beginning in the fall semester of 2014. [in]tuition guarantees all students a set rate on tuition and mandatory fees for two or four years, depending on their classification.

    July 20, 2014

  • Muralupdate1.jpg Organizations come together to beautify Commerce

    Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Texas A&M University-Commerce and the City of Commerce have partnered to bring a new “Vintage” mural to Commerce, highlighting the city’s and iconic brand’s longstanding relationship and heritage.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Canadian tour bus accident leaves one dead, 50 injured

    A teenage girl died and more than 50 people were injured when a Canadian tour bus skidded off Interstate 87, broke through a median guard rail and rolled on its side down a steep embankment in northeastern New York.

    July 19, 2014

  • Council approves members, passes glass bottle ordinance

    The Commerce Parks and Recreation Board is now fully staffed, following the approval of three members by the Commerce City Council.

    July 18, 2014

  • Dan_Flynn.jpg State lawmaker intends to re-file 10 Commandments legislation

    The Texas Department of Transportation initiated a fierce debate earlier this year after informing a Texas woman that she could no longer display a sign featuring the 10 Commandments.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gomery Michigan ex-prosecutor arrested in murder-for-hire plot

    A former Michigan prosecutor was charged Monday with soliciting a hitman to murder the attorney who represented a business partner in a contentious fraud and malpractice lawsuit over the ownership of a golf course.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • School tax rate increases

    Low property values and a decrease in enrollment caused a slight tax increase for Commerce Independent School District, according to Finance Director John Walker.

    July 14, 2014

  • g258000000000000000c4985ae14aba1b54c02044ccfe867384c3b14f48.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    Unchecked tears rolled down Paul Martin’s lined face as he clutched the hand of an Air Force servicewoman who handed him a handwritten note at the graveside service for his older brother.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet new pastor Dr. Gregory Neal, enjoy FUMC Commerce ‘Jeopardy’

    “What is a fun way to meet the new pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Commerce?”

    July 11, 2014

  • Hospital to open next spring

    Hospital officials and local politicians were in Commerce last week to mark the ground breaking of Hunt Regional Emergency Medical Center at Commerce, an approximately $5 million facility that will be located on Highway 24 between Whitley Residence Hall and the President’s House.

    July 9, 2014

Featured Ads

Poll

How many games do you think the Lions will win in 2014?

7-9 wins
4-6 wins
1-3 wins
     View Results
Must Read
Facebook
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide