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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Who Has a Right to Appointed Counsel at Trial in Texas and in Federal Court?

American criminal defendants threatened with jail in either federal or state proceedings are supposed to have counsel appointed for them if they can cannot afford an attorney themselves. Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). Convicts who are too poor to afford a lawyer who do not formally waive their right to one will have their cases reversed. This used to be a common problem with old prior convictions, but you are unlikely to encounter a case 50 years old or more that has not been challenged for Gideon error by now any more. Also those indigents adjudged sexually violent predators in Texas. Tex. Health & Safety Code sec. 841.005. In a suit filed by a Texas governmental entity in which termination of the parent-child relationship is requested, the court has to appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of:

  1. an indigent parent of the child who responds in opposition to the termination;
  2. a parent served by citation by publication;
  3. an alleged father who failed to register with the registry under Texas Family Code chapter 160 and whose identity or location is unknown;  and
  4. an alleged father who registered with the paternity registry under Texas Family Code Chapter 160, but the petitioner's attempt to personally serve citation at the address provided to the registry and at any other address for the alleged father known by the petitioner has been unsuccessful.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. sec. 107.103.

This is an important rule because in a world where there is less and less sure-fire reversible error-- this is the real thing.


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