How the Unchecked Power of Judges Is Hurting Poor Texans

“In Texas, the crisis is exacerbated by a key structural flaw: indigent defense is largely overseen by judges. Contrary to the American Bar Association’s principles of public defense, which call for defense lawyers to be independent of the judiciary, judges in most Texas counties decide which lawyers get cases, how much they are paid, and whether their motions—say, to reduce bail or test DNA—have merit… Lawyers trying to work a case properly—by devoting more time or requesting an investigator—face a quandary: Why make the effort if a judge can retaliate by appointing them to fewer cases or cutting their pay?”

Published: Aug 19, 2019
Length: 45 minutes (11,259 words)