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Relating to the appointment of a local public defender's office to represent indigent defendants in criminal cases.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
Currently, courts are required to give priority in appointing a public defender's office unless "the court has reason to appoint other counsel." However, courts tend to favor appointing private attorneys to represent indigent defendants at the expense of county taxpayers.
SB 583 would require priority appointment of a public defender for a defendant in criminal proceedings, including capital murder cases. The court is not required to appoint a public defender if the court makes a finding of good cause to appoint other counsel, the appointment would be contrary to the office's written plan, the office is prohibited from accepting the appointment, or a managed counsel program exists in the county and an attorney will be appointed under that program.
Texas Action supports SB 583 because it advances the principle of individual liberty and limited government. Taxpayers deserve to have their tax dollars spent wisely, and this bill ensures that they are not essentially being taxed twice for a service that could be performed by the public defender's office in that county.