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Posts Tagged ‘public defender’

Judge Pratt update

The most embattled Family Court judge in Harris County is still on the ballot, in case you were wondering. Embattled state District Court Judge Denise Pratt, accused of falsifying court records to cover up tardy rulings, intends to remain on the ballot to face the voters, her lawyer says. In late October, the Harris County […]

Moving the focus back to un-crowding the jails

This is a positive development. Newly appointed Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson on Wednesday pledged to curb the increasing number of low-level felons being sentenced to serve misdemeanor time in the county jail rather than going to prison, known as a “12.44a” sentence, saying she will encourage her prosecutors to push rehabilitation. There has […]

Harris County indigent defense costs trending down

Via Grits, here’s an email from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition that shows some good news for Harris County. New numbers from the Commission show that while total indigent defense expenses in Harris County increased by $4.7 million between 2007 and 2011, local indigent defense expenses were lower in 2011 than in 2007, and down […]

Complaining about the public defender office

At least one judge doesn’t like the new Harris County Public Defenders office. “In short there is no evidence that a public defender’s office can be of any benefit to the Harris County Juvenile Justice system,” state District Judge John Phillips said last month in an open letter. Chief among Phillips’ complaints is that the […]

A few words with Alex Bunin

The Sunday Chron had a brief conversation with the head of Harris County’s new public defender office, Alex Bunin. Q: You don’t know if the office is going to save taxpayer dollars for attorneys per case, but you say it will be a better value for the money spent? A: Absolutely. If you’re asking me […]

Harris County appoints its public defender

Meet Alex Bunin, who was unanimously appointed by Commissioners Court to be the chief of Harris County’s first ever public defender office. Bunin, 51, set up federal public defender offices in southern Alabama, Vermont and northern New York. He currently runs the Albany and Syracuse offices in New York and teaches at Albany Law School. […]

Public defender’s office approved

Excellent! A state panel has awarded Harris County a $4.1 million grant to launch a public defender office, which is expected to start taking cases early next year. The county plans to roll out the office in phases over the next two years to handle appeals, juvenile cases, adult felony trials and mental health cases. […]

County redoes its public defender proposal

Back in April, Harris County Commissioners Court voted to start a pilot public defenders office, contingent on getting a $4.4 million grant from the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense to help cover costs. That initial effort was subsequently criticized for being inadequate, and the TFID gave the county 30 days to improve its grant […]

The softer side of Sharon Keller

The Trib lets us know that there’s more to Sharon Keller than willful indifference to death penalty appeals and rigid fealty to the prosecutorial perspective. For nearly as long as she has led the state’s highest criminal court, Keller has also served as chairwoman of the Task Force on Indigent Defense. Lawmakers created the task […]

Ellis criticizes county’s public defender proposal

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, who authored the bill that allowed Texas counties to create public defender offices, is not pleased with the plan that Harris County currently has to establish one. Ellis and other critics of the system say it compromises defense of the poor because attorneys must advocate before judges on whom they depend […]

Is the county’s public defender proposal good enough?

This op-ed by Charlie Baird, judge of the 299th District Court in Travis County, and William Sessions, former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, suggest that the start-up public defender’s office that Commissioners Court recently voted to authorize suffers from the same problem as the current system: lack […]

Public defender office gets OK from Commissioners Court

Good. The Harris County Commissioners Court voted Tuesday to start a public defender office on an experimental basis, as long as the state covers the $4.4 million cost for the first year. The unanimous vote authorizes the county to apply for a grant from the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense. If awarded the money, […]

Another step forward for a public defender’s office

I’m not sure exactly what this entails, but it’s good to see progress. Harris County plans to launch a limited public defender office in October if it receives a $4.4 million state grant. The office would start with 30 people defending the indigent on appeals of felony cases and in misdemeanor cases with mentally ill […]

Yes, Your Honor, we do need a public defender’s office

I really don’t understand the argument against at this point. More than 100 private attorneys were assigned by judges to represent inmates who could not afford a lawyer in felony cases in 2008. Sixty of them received more than $100,000. Yet, no one in Harris County is centrally assigned to oversee those attorneys or monitor […]

Commissioners Court approves public defenders plan

The “hybrid” public defenders office that Commissioners Court had been considering was approved Tuesday by a 5-0 vote, though the details still need to be worked out in time for the February 2010 budget meeting. “It’s going to take however long its going to take,“ Commissioner El Franco Lee said. “It’s now in the hands […]

The county’s proposal for a public defender’s office

Next week, a proposal for a “hybrid” public defender’s office will be presented to Harris County Commissioners Court. It is considered a hybrid because it would allow courts to use both public defenders and private attorneys. For example, two of the county’s three juvenile courts are interested in assigning public defenders to represent 60 percent […]

In support of a public defender’s office in Harris County

The Criminal Justice Coalition has sent a letter to County Judge Ed Emmett and Harris County Commissioners Court in support of establishing a public defender’s office in Harris County. You can read the letter here. The Court approved a study of such an office last April, and the original plan was to have it up […]