The award is a result of the work done to create the Caprock Regional Public Defender Office along with Dickens County.
The Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) honored the Texas Tech University School of Law, along with Lubbock and Dickens counties, for their work in improving indigent defense throughout the state.
Specifically, the School of Law and Dickens County were presented the Gideon Award for their work in creating the Caprock Regional Public Defender Office (CRPDO). That office provides indigent defense representation to more than 16 rural counties on the South Plains that is more cost effective for communities that have a lack of access to local attorneys who will accept court appointments.
“I would like to thank Donnie Yandell, our chief public defender, for his tireless efforts protecting the rights of indigent defendants in rural West Texas while educating the next generation of criminal defense lawyers,” said professor Pat Metze, director of the School of Law's Criminal Clinics. “Through this unique experiential learning environment, our students learn the practice of criminal law. It is because of the foresight and support of the dean and the faculty that we are allowed to do this important work.”
The CRPDO is operated through an agreement between participating counties and Texas Tech. Through the assistance of the School of Law, the program has trained more than 36 law students for representation of indigent defendants.
“We all benefit when we learn to value what our Constitution guarantees to our fellow citizens who find themselves indigent and in trouble with the law,” Metze said. “Our liberty as a people is all that hangs in the balance.”
The Gideon Recognition Program marked its 50th anniversary in 2013. It is named after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, which affirmed the right to an attorney for poor defendants. The TIDC established the Gideon Recognition Program to honor local governmental commitment to providing indigent defense and high standards of performance.