Monday, May 25, 2020

Rainy Day Reading

Poking around this afternoon on some state agency websites, I ran across several disparate items I wanted to record for my own purposes which may also interest Grits readers:

State Prosecuting Attorney: Check out an interesting Power Point detailing different legal provisions establishing prosecutors' duty to disclose evidence to the defense in Texas, as well as limitations on defense attorneys' ability to advise clients on how to handle potentially incriminating evidence.

Texas Indigent Defense Commission: See a variety of linked training resources related to magistration, managed-assigned counsel programs, and competency restoration from a conference in January. This presentation on the challenges of implementing the Fair Defense Act included a chart demonstrating smaller Texas counties are still resisting requirements to appoint counsel for indigent defendants in misdemeanor cases.

Texas Forensic Science Commission: The commission has published a complete list of licensed technicians and forensic analysts in Texas. Here's more background on the licensing program, which took effect last year. 

Texas Commission on Jail Standards: Here's their guidance to jails on implementing Governor Abbott's new executive order forbidding county jail visitation except for attorneys and clergy.

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement: See their guidance to agencies on law-enforcement training delayed by coronavirus restrictions. There are currently more than 80,000 licensed peace officers in Texas, or about 2.7 cops for every 1,000 people.


walt said...

Concerning pro se representation, I wonder why this happens. I currently preside over a misdemeanor court in Potter County. Indeed, we asked for and received assistance from the 6th Amendment Center to work on these outcomes. After 25 years of criminal defense practice, I took the bench and immediately implemented changes in an effort to change the procedures in an effort to educate and, perhaps, change the pro se numbers.---that did not happen.

I have pleaded with pro se defendants to ask for an attorney, I have educated them as to the many unforeseen collateral consequences of pleading guilty. I've offered that an attorney may even be able to find a solution that results in no conviction, all to no avail.

I wonder if there has been a statistical study comparing the conviction results of those who were represented versus those who choose to represent themself.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I've seen data showing that ppl with assigned counsel get worse results than those with public defenders or private lawyers. But searching the 9,500+ Grits posts, I don't think I've run across data comparing outcomes for pro se defendants. Thanks for putting that on my radar screen, now I'm going to hunt for that datapoint.

In your case, I'm interested that you're trying to get ppl lawyers and many don't want them. In general, my impression is that most judges (obv not you) don't appoint lawyers for misdemeanors because the counties don't want to pay for them.

BTW, it looks like Potter County's misdemeanor appointment rate increased in 2019. Maybe that was because of you!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

BTW, Judge Weaver, the presentation from TIDC from which that data came include suggested questions for defendants who want to waive their right to counsel that might be helpful to you as you try to convince folks to use a lawyer. They suggest asking:

* Have you ever before represented yourself in a criminal action? Do you understand
how to conduct legal research?
* Are you familiar with the Rules of Evidence? Are you familiar with the Code of
Criminal Procedure?
* Do you understand that you will be on your own and will receive no advice, guidance
or help from the court? Understanding these questions, is it still your desire to
represent yourself and give up your right to be represented by an attorney?

Greg Prosmushkin said...
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