Houston Matters

How Overworked are Texas Court-Appointed Attorneys?

You’ve heard this part of the Miranda rights before (if not in person, then at least on TV crime dramas): “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you…” Well, a lot of defendants can’t afford attorneys. That’s where public defenders come in, and sometimes private […]

You’ve heard this part of the Miranda rights before (if not in person, then at least on TV crime dramas): “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you…”

Well, a lot of defendants can’t afford attorneys. That’s where public defenders come in, and sometimes private attorneys assigned by the courts, who agree to work pro bono.

The Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M recently published a report on behalf of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. The report examines the caseloads of court-appointed clients’ criminal defense attorneys in Texas are asked to take on. It was initiated by a bill (HB 1318) passed last session by the Texas Legislature.

We learn about the report from Texas Indigent Defense Commission Executive Director James Bethke. We also hear from State Senator Rodney Ellis about legislative efforts to address indigent defense caseloads.

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