Grant To Bring Free Lawyers To Far West Texas

Jeff Davis County Coutrhouse in Fort Davis, TX

Photo from Google Images

By Ben Caxton

JEFF DAVIS COUNTY, TX (Ben Caxton) — Saying it like it’s a bad thing, Jeff Davis County Judge, Carlos Urias lamented the lack of lawyers in Jeff Davis County. “There is not a single lawyer here.” He was actually referring to someone he could appoint to represent defendants who do not have the money to pay for legal representation. Roxana Hill of Valentine Radio News spoke with Judge Urias on Monday. “We have a county attorney. But a public defender? Someone that can defend? That I can appoint to defend someone? We don’t have a single lawyer they’re all from out-of-town.” But that’s now all about to change thanks to a new grant to set up a public defender’s office. District Judge Roy Ferguson, who presides over the 394th Judicial District Court was the one that arranged the grant to pay for the new law firm. “He’s the one that went to Austin and fought for it. We applied and we ended up getting it. Judge Ferguson and I we talked at length about it. And then the other judges joined in as well. We found a need for an office like this, a public defender’s office. Here in Van Horn. Here in Culberson County.” Texas Indigent Defense Commission is providing financial and technical support to the five counties who are pooling resources to set up what will be called the “Far West Texas Regional Public Defender Office.” “This firm is going to be a group of lawyers and they’re not here in Culberson County but Presidio County, Brewster County, Jeff Davis, Culberson, and I believe Hudspeth. Anyone that needs a court appointed attorney will come from that office.” He says until now the county paid the entire bill whenever representation was ordered by the court. And without local lawyers, appointments had to be made for lawyers who needed to travel two or three hours to meet with their clients and appear in court for minimal pay. “Whenever we appoint a court-appointed attorney, the county pays for it. We pay for the attorney. We pay “x” amount of dollars for court-appointed attorneys. That money is going to go into this group of lawyers that are going to do the same thing but now they’ll be accessible.” There’s no word yet on how soon the counties will be able to open and staff the new office.


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