The Criminal Court Judges of Travis County are committed to providing timely and quality legal representation to indigent defendants. The Fair Defense Plan describes the process adopted by the Criminal Court Judges to guarantee fair and neutral procedures for attorney selection, to ensure that minimum competency standards for court appointed attorneys are established, and that public funds are wisely expended.

Proposed Local Rules – District Courts

The proposed Local Rules were drafted to govern all criminal cases filed in the District Courts in Travis County, Texas.

Local Rules – County Courts at Law

The Local Rules govern all cases filed in the County Courts at Law in Travis County, Texas; both criminal cases and civil cases.

When an arrested person is released from jail on a bond, their first setting will typically be an FST setting in the Criminal Court Administration office (CCA) approximately two weeks after their release from jail. The exceptions are the Assault Family Violence/Violation of a Protective Order cases. These cases are set directly in the County Court at Law #4.

For First Appearances, arrested persons without attorneys are required to report in person to the Criminal Courts Administration office per the instructions on their bond. However, attorneys are allowed to call CCA, report in person or consult the on- line dockets for next setting information. It is important to note that attorneys must report in person for court appearances when their setting is in the courts.

A central Bond Review Docket (BRD) is held daily from 2:00 pm until approximately 3:30 pm for appropriate misdemeanor jail cases. The BRD location is rotated weekly among the County Courts at Law (with the exception of County Court at Law #4 cases). Prosecutors and inmates are available for discovery and plea negotiations beginning at 1:30 pm.

Attorneys will receive court appointments for the BRD via email. Court appointed attorneys who do not report for court by 2:00 pm to represent their appointed case will have the case appointed to another attorney.  The BRD excludes misdemeanors with felonies (new misdemeanor cases with felonies attached will be scheduled directly into the court of jurisdiction).   One Reset Rule – Case set on the BRD can be reset one time only will good cause for no later than 2 days. Further resets, or other types of settings (i.e., jury trials, TBCs) will be arranged with the coordinator of the originally assigned court on the same day.

Bench Appointments/Reappointments
Court appointed attorneys may sign up on an alphabetical list to be eligible for additional court appointments. Sign up begins daily at 1:30 pm. The BRD Judge will make additional appointments to the attorneys who are present in the courtroom. On a daily basis, the list will begin where it left off the previous day.

BRD Hotline
Court appointed attorneys may call the BRD Hotline after 4:00 pm daily (512) 854-9255 to determine where the list will begin the next day. This information is also displayed on the first floor of the Criminal Justice Center lobby on the large docket display screens near the elevators.

The Court Coordinators are responsible for all scheduling of interpreters. If an attorney contacts the interpreter, the Courts are not responsible for payment of the invoice.

If a case is reset, interpreters are not automatically assigned to return on the reset date unless the Coordinator contacts them. Coordinators and interpreters are encouraged to use e-mail to confirm all scheduling instead of verbal contact alone, so as to keep a written record of agreements.

For additional information, review the Language Access Plan.

Notice of Representation
While attorneys may provide letters of representation to the clerk, they are not required and are insufficient to inform the court of your appearance as counsel. Attorneys should contact the courts directly via phone, email, or in person to inform the courts of their representation. For cases not yet assigned to a court, attorneys may contact court administration at (512) 854-9244 to make announcements regarding representation.

Vacation Letters
While attorneys may send vacation letters in criminal cases in Travis County, they are often unnecessary. Attorneys should work with judges and court coordinators directly to select appropriate dates that accommodate their personal and professional responsibilities. Cases are not routinely set without input from attorneys, and if an attorney discovers a conflict they should contact the court directly to resolve it. Assigned counsel should contact CAPDS at (512) 774-4208 to ensure they do not receive assignments when they are unavailable.