Travis County is revamping its indigent defense system in a way that might greatly benefit poor criminal defendants. Some say the new system also would benefit the criminal-defense attorneys who take appointments, while others say the change might harm some lawyers financially.
The county’s judicial branch currently appoints and manages criminal-defense lawyers for indigent defendants, but work is underway to transfer those duties to a nonprofit organization. Starting this January, the Capital Area Private Defenders Service will set new qualifications for indigent criminal-defense lawyers, screen attorneys to ensure they’re qualified, assign cases to private criminal-defense lawyers and monitor their work.
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