HBA-MSH H.B. 3660 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3660 By: Smithee County Affairs 4/8/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Currently, Randall County appoints private attorneys to represent indigent persons at the expense of the county. Last year, Randall County spent $560,000 for this purpose, $200,000 over the amount budgeted. This year, Randall County has budgeted $496,000 for court appointed attorneys. It may be more costeffective to have a public defender's office provide legal defense to indigent persons. House Bill 3660 authorizes the Randall county commissioners court to create a public defenders office. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 3660 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to authorizes the commissioners court of Randall County to appoint an attorney to serve as a public defender. The bill authorizes the public defender to employ assistant public defenders, investigators, secretaries, and other necessary personnel with the approval of the commissioners court. The bill prohibits a public defender or assistant public defender from engaging in the private practice of law. The bill requires the public defender or assistant public defender to represent each indigent person who is charged with a criminal offense in Randall County punishable by confinement or imprisonment, a minor who is a party to a juvenile delinquency proceeding, or a person who is entitled to representation under the Person with Mental Retardation Act, the Mental Health Code, or provisions relating to treatment of chemically dependent persons. The bill sets forth provisions relating to conflicts of interest between the public defender and the indigent person and the investigation of the financial condition of an indigent person. The bill authorizes the commissioners court to accept gifts and grants from any source to finance an adequate and effective public defender program. EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001.