Fifth Judicial District County Court Indigent Defense Rule

Fifth Judicial District County Court Indigent Defense Rule

  1. PURPOSE. This rule is to establish a process for the appointment of private attorneys to represent indigent defendants as provided in Neb. Rev. State. §§ 29-3901 to 29-3908.
  2. APPLICABILITY. This rule shall not apply to criminal proceedings in which the court appoints the Public Defender or the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy.
  4.  Appointments of private attorneys shall be made on an impartial and equitable basis;
  5. The appointments shall be distributed among the attorneys on a rotation system;
  6. Cases shall be assigned to attorneys of sufficient experience, skill, and competence to render effective assistance of counsel to defendants;
  7. Complex cases shall be assigned to attorneys with sufficient levels of experience and competence to provide adequate representation; and
  8. Less experienced attorneys should be assigned cases which are within their capabilities, but should be given the opportunity to expand their experience under supervision.
  10. The list for each county will be initially developed as follows: The attached questionnaire form will be distributed by the office of the presiding district judge to all attorneys in the Fifth Judicial District and to all attorneys whose names appear on the court-appointment list of each county within the district. Once the questionnaires are collected, a court-appointed attorney list for each county will then be compiled and distributed to each of the clerk magistrates and judges in the district. The list shall be effective once it is distributed.
  11. Thereafter, each County Court shall maintain the court-appointed attorney list from which attorneys shall be appointed to represent indigent defendants.
  12. Once the initial list is in effect, attorneys may contact the County Court in each county and request that he or she be placed on, or removed from, the court-appointed list. A request to be placed on the list shall be accompanied by a completed questionnaire form, which is attached to this rule.
  13. The County Court shall maintain and update the list, and shall provide the District Court with a copy of the list annually on December 31 and whenever it is updated by the addition or removal of attorneys. In addition, the County Court shall provide the list maintained hereunder at the request of a District Judge of this District.
  14. The County Court shall make the court-appointed list of attorneys available upon request.
  16. The Courts of this District will generally attempt to appoint attorneys from the court-appointed attorney list on a rotational basis, subject to the court’s sole discretion to make exceptions due to:
  17. The nature and complexity of the case;
  18. An attorney’s experience;
  19. The nature and disposition of the defendant;
  20. A language consideration;
  21. A conflict of interest;
  22. The availability of an attorney, taking into consideration an immediate need to address issues involved in the case;[1]
  23. Geographical considerations;[2]
  24. Prior representation of the parties; and
  25. Other relevant factors that may be involved in a specific case.
  26. If the Court, in its sole discretion, varies from the rotation basis, it may appoint any qualified attorney, whether or not the attorney is on the court-appointed attorney list.
  28. Judges will monitor attorney performance on a continuing basis to ensure the competency of attorneys on the list. An attorney may be removed from the appointment list by a majority vote of County and District Court Judges. In the event that an attorney is recommended by any judge for removal from the list, the presiding County and District Judges shall meet to discuss the matter.
  29. If the presiding judges determine that any attorney should be under consideration for removal from the list, written notification will be given to the attorney indicating the concerns with his or her performance giving rise to consideration for removal, and will be given the opportunity to respond in writing or in person before the final decision is made.
  30. Following this response, all County and District Judges shall vote on whether an attorney should be removed from the list.
  31. An attorney who has been removed from the list may be considered for reinstatement by a majority vote of the judges, after the deficiencies contained in the notice have been resolved.

These rules shall also apply to the appointment of private attorneys as counsel or Guardian ad Litem in juvenile, domestic relations, paternity, and child support matters, when such appointment is required by statute.

Approved February 19, 2015.

                [1] The court may appoint an attorney present in court when a defendant appears and wants to speak to an attorney immediately to discuss a resolution of the case. The court may also appoint an attorney who is known to be available on the next regularly scheduled court date.

                [2] The court may appoint an attorney who is in the closest geographical proximity to the court before considering the appointment of another attorney in order to avoid the costs of travel time for attorneys and mileage expenses; for the convenience of defendant in consulting with a local attorney; and for the convenience of the court in scheduling cases.