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Judges Have ‘Unchecked Power’ Over Legal Counsel For Poor Texans

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In Texas, judges have oversight over the appointment and scheduling of court appointed attorneys for people who cannot afford to hire their own legal counsel. How does this affect the quality of representation for economically disadvantaged Texans?

Federal law lets states decide how to appoint and pay for lawyers for the poor, and Texas leaves those decisions to its counties. Most rely on contracts with private lawyers, who are paid a modest fee. Some turn to public defender's offices, the majority of which are underfunded and swamped with cases.

What needs to change to ensure all Texans, regardless of financial status, get a fair chance in court?

Guest:

 
"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

 

*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, August 28.

Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.