Sen. Ellis responds to indigent defense caseloads study

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(Austin, TX) // Today, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) issued this statement following the release of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission’s caseload study.

“Texas has a problem with attorneys handling so many criminal cases that they cannot provide effective representation to their indigent clients,” said Sen. Ellis. “Taking over 1000 appointed cases in a year, for example, makes effective representation nearly impossible. This report offers recommendations that are an integral first step toward making sure all Texans have their constitutional rights protected.”

Through a Senate floor amendment to Rep. Sylvester Turner’s HB 1318 (83R), Sen. Ellis required the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to conduct a study to generate caseload recommendations that enable the state’s criminal defense attorneys “to give each indigent defendant the time and effort necessary to ensure effective representation.”

According to the study’s findings, a Texas attorney should handle an annual full-time equivalent of no more than 236 Class B Misdemeanors, 216 Class A Misdemeanors, 175 State Jail Felonies, 144 Third Degree Felonies, 105 Second Degree Felonies, or 77 First Degree Felonies.

“I applaud the work of the Commission,” said Sen. Ellis. “It’s time for us to get down to the serious work of implementing these guidelines.”

This session, Sen. Ellis continues to tackle the issue of high caseloads by filing SB 260, which . As the bill moves through the legislative process, Sen. Ellis will incorporate the study’s recommendations to ensure that Texas has the proper checks and balances in place to protect against abuse of our valuable criminal justice resources.

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