NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – A Texas county is set to be the first place in the U.S. to test the idea of allowing indigent defendants to choose their own court-appointed lawyers.
Indigent defendants in Comal County, between Austin and San Antonio, will be able to choose a defense attorney from a list to 30 to 50 names pre-approved by the court.
Legal experts say the new system may allow defendants to be more invested in their cases and encourage attorneys to provide quality service or risk losing future business. The program, funded by a $200,000 grant, will be tried for a year and then assessed.
Indigent defense systems have long been criticized for large caseloads, inadequate funding and spotty quality.