Riverside, California 2022-06-16 12:49:03 –
Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to include comments from Judge Barbara Canales of Nueces County.
Nueces County has been selected to receive over $ 7.2 million in state funding to set up a publicly elected lawyer’s office for mental health. It represents some of the most marginalized defendants in the county.
On Wednesday, county judges met at a specially called meeting to announce funding from the Texas Poor Defense Commission and discuss the next steps to set up a new office.
When the office goes live, the lawyer hired by the office represents the poor defendant who cannot afford to hire an agent. The office aims to improve poor defense quality, constitutional compliance and accountability, while increasing efficiency and reducing the cost of running prisons and courts. TIDC Survey in Nueces County..
“We all see revolving doors in court,” district judge Missy Medary told her fellow judge during the meeting. She said the new office would better address the “baseline problem” at the heart of some cases, providing defendants with mental health resources and reducing the chances of recidivism.
According to Medary, the office will account for 45% of mental health-related and 13% of poor non-mental health-related cases. According to her, the number of lawyers working in the office will be determined by the office’s chief counsel once the lawyer is hired.
According to Medary, the office is Huge backlog of court cases caused by COVID-19-related outages over the last two years.. Second, the overcapacity inmate population of Nueces County Prisons may decline.
Since July 2021, Nueces County has spent more than $ 420,000 to detain prisoners in prisons outside the county to alleviate overpopulation.Commissioner Court voted last week Use US Rescue Planning Act funds to cover its ongoing costs.. (TIDC grants also consisted of ARPA funding provided to the State Commission.)
The office said it would reduce the cost of providing court-appointed lawyers to these defendants and “remove the perception of influence between these lawyers and judges.” TIDC research.. In April, county auditor Dale Atchley told commissioners that it would cost an average of more than $ 3 million a year to appoint a lawyer as a defendant.
Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales, who has worked with the Judge Indictment on this topic, said the new grant office “will be a multiplier for the power of those suffering from mental health problems and our criminal justice. Put yourself in the system. “
“Making our own local financial investment over the next six years and partnering with our state is truly’moving the needle’and justice in the field of mental health in our community. Means make sure you are. “Caller-Times.
Defendant lawyer Lisa Greenberg, who has been instrumental in creating the office, said the new office would ensure that poor county defendants could get the right results in their cases.
Greenberg represented Portland’s man Andres “Andy” Jacob Mushel, who was accused of murdering his father in 2017. January, Mushel Turned out to be innocent because of madness.
Greenberg, who has been practicing the law for over a decade, said he spent a lot of time getting used to the best way to represent his clients and sought advice from other Texas public lawyers’ offices. She said lawyers specializing in these areas would significantly improve the defense of poor defendants.
“The mental health case requires a little more time and skill,” Greenberg told Caller-Times. “They are the most marginalized and the most affected in prisons. They do not take the medicines they need or receive treatment. The office will help.
“People can’t punish mental illness,” she added. “It doesn’t work.”
What will happen next
The $ 7.2 million grant will be submitted to the Secretary’s Court for approval at a court meeting on 22 June.
In addition, the Commissioner Court is responsible for establishing a supervisory board for the office. The board must consist of members of the community who, according to the TIDC guidelines, do not directly benefit from their involvement.
The Judge Indictment Committee on Wednesday approved the list of recommended candidates to be issued to the Commissioner’s Court for consideration. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the Commission to chair the Board.
The most notable on the jury’s nomination list is Rosaena Mushel, the mother of Andy Mushel. Greenberg is also on the list of recommended candidates.
“I’m excited to be on the list. As a practitioner of criminal defense, I’m aware of the problem and help (as chief defense counsel) choose someone to take care of and do a good job. I want to do it. I’m successful. “
Once established, the supervisory board develops bylaws and seeks candidates for chief advocates. The Chief Advocate hires lawyers and staff from the office and reports to the Board of Directors.
According to Medary, the Chief Defender will “get in shape” in the office.
“Need to grow”
In April, a Nueces County judge, along with Greenberg and other lawyers — Appeal to Commissioner Court The green light applies to the TIDC grant. The court unanimously decided to allow the judge to apply for and seek $ 14.2 million from the office.
According to Medary, TIDC has awarded about half of that amount to Nueces County, the largest grant issued by the State Commission for this purpose.
TIDC study Assuming the full amount of Nueces County was allocated, the office said it would hire 32 staff, including lawyers, secretaries, managers and mitigators.
Medary said the number of staff will not be determined until the Chief Defender is hired, but she estimates that it will be half of what the study recommends.
Both Medary and Greenberg have stated that they expect the Commissioner Court to invest more money in the office over time. By doing so, they said they could see an office representing all the poor defendants with mental health problems.
“We want to be able to recognize the need to grow it,” Medary said.
The $ 7.2 million grant covers all office costs for the first two years. In the third year, funding was reduced until the seventh year, when the county handled the full cost.
Canales, a county judge, said ARPA funds will be used in the future to keep county costs down.
“These funds could trigger a real change in courts and prisons that we have long needed,” Canales said.
Nueces County awarded state funds to establish public defenders office Source link Nueces County awarded state funds to establish public defenders office