May 16, 2011
The Texas Tech School of Law and the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense have joined
forces to improve legal representation for the poor in the state's far flung, sparsely
The Caprock Public Defender Office is the first of its kind in Texas, said Bryan Wilson, grants administrator for the Task Force. The project pairs a law school professor and students in a law school clinic with counties that have few if any attorneys available for court appointments.
About a dozen counties in the Lubbock area covering a 40,000 square mile area, have signed up for the office to provide representation for misdemeanor and juvenile defendants. Wilson said the need is great because a recent study showed some counties have only one attorney--the local prosecutor.
"Some have zero," Wilson said. "It's really amazing."
Patrick Metze, director of clinics at Texas Tech said the office which started accepting clients in February, will involve one professor and three students this summer, and one professor and 12 students next year. The aim is to expand to three professors and 24 students eventually.
"Hopefully we can talk the other law schools in the state to doing it and we can increase legal services to the poor dramatically," Metze said.
The Task Force funded the office with a $566,000 one year grant to Dickens County.