The following rule is adopted by the District Courts of the Seventh Judicial District for the appointment of legal counsel for indigent individuals charged with crimes of misdemeanors and felonies after January 1, 2015.
- Counsel for indigent defendants shall be provided in accordance with Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 29-3901 to 29-3908. Attorneys shall provide legal counsel to all clients in a professional, skilled manner consistent with the Nebraska Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct. Each county’s public defender shall have first priority to be appointed for any indigent defendant in all criminal cases within the county. The rules set forth in the paragraphs below shall deal with the appointment of licensed practicing attorneys for the purpose of representing indigent defendants when there is no local public defender available.
- Each clerk of the county and district court shall maintain a court-appointed attorney list from which attorneys shall be appointed to represent indigent defendants. Attorneys may contact the clerks in each county and district court and may request the clerks thereof to place them on or remove them from the court-appointed list. The list shall have a priority category as follows: the first category listing shall include those attorneys having an office located within the county of such appointment. The second category listing shall include names of attorneys having an office located within any of the counties immediately adjacent to the county of such appointment. This list shall be held by the clerk of either the county or district court and be open for public inspection upon request.
- The clerk of either the county or district court shall keep a separate list of case appointments of licensed attorneys for indigent defendants except those cases where defendants are represented by the county’s public defender. The list shall include the name, criminal case number, and date of appointment of the attorney to the case. This list shall also be open to public inspection upon request.
- The appointment of attorneys to indigent defendants shall be on a rotational basis, using the first category listing above. No attorney on the first category listing shall be appointed to an indigent defendant a second time without first ensuring that all attorneys in the first category have been appointed on cases or have been disqualified based upon conflicts. Attorneys in the second category listing shall be used when no first category listing attorneys are available. Any use of second category listing attorneys shall be on a rotational basis, as well.
- Cases shall be assigned to attorneys of sufficient experience, skill, and competence to render effective assistance of counsel to defendants. Complex cases shall be assigned to attorneys with sufficient levels of experience and competence to provide adequate representation. Less experienced attorneys shall be assigned cases which are within their capabilities, but shall be given the opportunity to expand their experience under supervision.
- The appointing court will generally appoint attorneys subject to the court’s sole discretion to make appointments due to:
- The nature and complexity of the case;
- An attorney’s experience;
- The nature and disposition of the defendant;
- The language consideration;
- A conflict of interest;
- The availability of an attorney, taking into consideration an immediate need to address issues involved in the case;
- Geographical considerations; and
- Other relevant factors that may be involved in the specific case.
The Court may, in its sole discretion, vary from the rotational basis and may appoint any qualified attorney, whether or not the attorney is on the court-appointed attorney list. Nothing shall prevent an appointing court from skipping the rotational basis in appointing the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy on a case-by-case basis for any indigent defendant.
- Judges shall monitor attorney performance on a continuing basis to ensure the competency of the attorneys on the list. An attorney may be removed from the appointment list by a majority vote of county and district court judges. If an attorney is under consideration for removal from the list, written notification shall be given to that attorney indicating the concerns with his or her performance giving rise to consideration for removal. The attorney shall be given the opportunity to respond in writing or in person before a final decision is made. An attorney who has been removed from the list may be considered for reinstatement by a majority vote of the county and district court judges, after the deficiencies contained in the notice have been resolved.
Approved February 19, 2015.