I'm still trying to comprehend the information Paul Kennedy shared about the number of court appointments some lawyers are taking/receiving. I would have guessed the lawyers who were milking the system were taking a couple hundred appointments a year. Boy was I wrong - the leading lawyer took 920 appointments in one year. That number included 278 felonies. That is a truly outstanding - and obscene number.
There was another lawyer with 894, one with 748, and a couple of lawyers who apparently got shafted - with only 500 appointments. Does anyone really think that's justice? That those defendants are receiving competent representation?
What can you do with that many cases? My guess is not much. You probably have time to talk to the prosecutor and get the plea offer. Maybe you even negotiate some - although I doubt it. You then go talk to your client and convince/coerce them to take it. And then go to the judge and get sentenced. Nice and sweet - can probably get it all done in a morning.
You can't have time to investigate and find out your client's full story. Nor can you have time to identify defenses, and file pre-trial motions. You sure don't have time to take the case to trial - my guess is none of those lawyers have tried a case in awhile. You know the prosecutor's know that - so what incentive do they have to make their best offer.
Years ago I served on the State Bar committee that developed standards and guidelines, which eventually led to the Fair defense act. The goal was to do away with this practice - and ensure that every defendant received competent representation. Clearly that didn't work - and frankly everyone predicted Harris County would be a problem.
There certainly isn't a shortage of lawyers in Harris County - and I'm sure there are a lot of young lawyers who would love some court appointments. So why not spread them around? My guess is money - these lawyers do it cheap. Or maybe they have some arrangement with the judges. There's another problem with that - other lawyers might investigate cases, litigate them and take some to trial - in other slow down the system.
This system is a disgrace and needs to be fixed.