Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3660
By: Smithee
County Affairs


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. 


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. 


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. 


On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act
takes effect September 1, 2001.