Indigent defendants in Central Texas counties will now be able to choose their own attorneys at the government’s expense. This is part of a new pilot program in Comal County, wherein the defendants categorized as indigent will have a list of 30 to 50 county approved attorneys to choose from. The success of the pilot program would determine whether the same could be adopted in other jurisdictions and the way the sixth and fourteenth amendments are exercised.

Addressing the Issue of Trust

Such a system will make criminal defense attorneys more accountable and address the issue of trust that has been a major concern among defendants. Tommy Vaughn, a Central Texas county defense attorney, believes his clients may be distrustful when courts appoint him as their attorney and assumes that is what they are thinking when he first meets them. Indigent defendants may be suspicious that attorneys would try to obtain a quick guilty plea or provide a poor quality defense.

Indigents are able to Choose their Own Attorney

Edwin Colfax, project manager for the Texas Indigent Defense Commission that gave a $200,000 grant to the Comal County for this pilot project, believes that when attorneys have to earn the business for the indigent clients, they would have new and stronger incentives to provide superlative services. In countries such as Australia, Canada, and England, defendants have been able to choose their own lawyers for many years.

The pilot project in Central Texas County is set to begin on January 12th of this year and will be tested for a year. Issues such as adequate pay, investigative services, and other resources would have to be addressed for this kind of system to be effective in large counties, according to Alex Bunin, chief public defender with the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in Houston.

Some, like Valerie Williams, a San Antonio resident, have had mixed results with appointed attorneys. In one incident in 2002, when she was arrested for a DUI incident, her attorney provided poor quality service and she was fined $2,000, while recently another appointed attorney was able to get the DWI and drug charges dismissed.

Homicide: Candid Confession on Camera

Aaron McGriff confessed to NBC Charlotte that he killed 18 year old Adrian Williams Jr. in self-defense.

Criminal defense attorney, Chuck Morgan Jr., who is not involved in this case, believes the confession on camera could help in McGriff’s defense as it sets up a self-defense case.

Aaron McGriff told NBC cameras that he admits to killing the 18 year old Adrian Williams Jr and that he did shoot him. Aaron also added that it was in self-defense, after having a dispute in the pathway when Adrian reached out for his gun. Aaron said that he saw the handle of Adrian’s gun and pulled out his own and shot him. Morgan said that the fact that Aaron did not just state that he shot the victim because he was mad at him, but instead explained the circumstances in detail. The confession could help his defense in court.

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