Texas Tech Law Helps Caprock Regional Public Defender Office Become a Reality
November 9, 2010
Texas Tech and Dickens County receive executed contract.
Written by Tina Dechausay
The Caprock Regional Public Defender Office (CRPDO), an initiative by the Texas Tech
School of Law Clinical Programs, recently took another step toward reality with the
execution of the contract between Dickens County and Texas Tech University. The intent
of the CRPDO project is to provide representation to indigent defendants and juvenile
respondents, who are appointed counsel in 16 counties of Northwest Texas.
“The creation of a staffed public defender program as a project of the School of Law
Clinical Programs will result in a cost-effective delivery model for indigent defense
services,” said Patrick S. Metze, director of the school’s Criminal Defense Clinic.
“The clinic will have the ability to efficiently provide services through experienced
defense counsel utilizing the resources available through the Texas Tech School of
Law, including the assistance of qualified law students.”
The burden to provide the legal representation to the poor required by both the United
States and Texas Constitutions has historically been left completely to the counties.
Since 2001, however, through the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense discretionary
grants, and other programs, counties have been able to receive state funds to help
offset those costs. On June 9 the task force approved more than $2.5 million in new
funding to Texas counties to improve their indigent defense systems. As part of this
grant, Dickens County was awarded $566,701 for the Caprock Regional Public Defender
“The counties for which the office will be providing services are rural counties that,
in the past, have appointed private attorneys who applied to be on a court’s appointment
list,” Metze said. “As very few private attorneys live in or serve this geographical
area, it has been extremely difficult to establish a stable and consistent pool of
experienced counsel to provide representation of indigent defendants in criminal cases
resulting in an underserved population.”
With the great distances throughout the 16-county region and the ever-increasing need
to conserve limited resources, video-conferencing equipment will be purchased and
placed in the CRPDO in Lubbock, in each courtroom utilizing the CRPDO, and in each
jail servicing the region. With the cooperation of the courts, trips to the counties
can be consolidated and limited to conserve resources.
One of the primary goals of this project is the opportunity to use inter-disciplinary
research to inform the bench, bar, governmental entities and criminal justice stakeholders
as to cost-effective methods of delivering indigent defense services in a manner that
could be a model for replication in other underserved areas.
“I am confident this will make a difference in the lives of indigent people charged
with a criminal offense – both adults and children – while providing invaluable training
and experience for the next generation of attorneys graduating from our school,” Metze
said. “Our hope is that this will continue to be a positive experience for all involved
while providing unique research opportunities and scholarship to create a new vehicle
to change the way legal services are provided to the poor.”
The Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense has committed 100 percent of the cost of
the program for the first two years of the project, which will be renewed on a year-to-year
basis, and is expected to become a permanent institutional presence in the region.
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Contact: Tina Dechausay, communications coordinator, Texas Tech School of Law
, (806) 742-3990 ext. 260, or firstname.lastname@example.org