C.S.S.B. 1224 78(R)    BILL ANALYSIS

C.S.S.B. 1224
By: Ellis, Rodney
Criminal Jurisprudence
Committee Report (Substituted)


The appointment of attorneys to represent indigent capital murder
defendants in post conviction writs of habeas corpus calls for careful
consideration of the attorneys' experience and competence. The Task Force
on Indigent Defense is in a much better position to gauge the quality,
availability and effectiveness of attorneys eligible to be appointed on
such matters than a statewide appellate court. Under current law, the
Court of Criminal Appeals adopts rules for convicting courts to follow
when appointing attorneys and approves appointments made by such courts.
C.S.S.B. 1224 would transfer the obligation to adopt standards for the
appointment of attorneys for such proceedings from the Court of Criminal
Appeals to the task force. 


It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any
additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or


C.S.S.B. 1224 amends the Criminal Procedure and Government codes relating
to the appointment of counsel for an indigent applicant for a writ of
habeas corpus in a capital case. The bill transfers the obligation to
adopt standards for the appointment from the Court of Criminal Appeals to
the Task Force on Indigent Defense. The standards must require, among
other things, that the attorney have recent and relevant experience, have
participated in continuing legal education courses, and not have been
found to have rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. Furthermore, the
task force may maintain a list of attorneys qualified for appointment and
make the list available to the convicting court to assist with the
appointment. The court may not appoint an attorney who represented the
applicant at trial or on direct appeal unless both the attorney and the
applicant request the appointment and there is good cause to do so.  


On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act
takes effect September 1, 2003.  


The substitute differs from the engrossed bill by requiring the assistant
counsel, which may be appointed by the convicting court, to meet certain
requirements established by the Task Force on Indigent Defense (task
force). The substitute further differs from the engrossed bill by
establishing minimum guidelines for the standards that the task force
adopts for the appointment of attorneys. Whereas, the engrossed bill
allows the task force to decide upon minimum standards. In addition, the
substitute removes provisions contained in the engrossed bill relating to
the approval of payment of itemized services by the convicting court.
Furthermore, the substitute removes the provision from the engrossed bill
which allows the task force to have a procedure that allows attorneys who
do not meet the requirements to be on the list of attorneys that the task
force maintains for appointments. The substitute also allows for the Act
to become effective upon passage.