Discussion Board

1. Your answer needs to be no less than 350 words. 

This discussion board topic is on the right to an attorney and where it specifically applies.  If you are accused of a crime in Texas, you do not always get an attorney or the attorney you think you would or should get.  For example, in municipal court trials, no attorney is provided because there is no loss of liberty.  Municipal courts are fine only courts.  Thus, you can only have an attorney in a municipal class C misdemeanor criminal proceeding if you can afford to hire one.  The 6th amendment to the U.S. Constitution does give .  In these cases, the court is required to provide you with an attorney.  Did you know though that if you cannot afford an attorney, there is no uniform public defender system in Texas for indigent defendants.  For example, you will still get an attorney in a capital murder case, but it will be a court appointed lawyer and that person is not required to have experience with capital murder defenses or appeals.  In Texas, when an attorney must be appointed, each county decides how to appoint and pay for the attorney provided to indigent defendants.  Some counties have what many will know as a public defender program and some have an appointment wheel.  Couple all this with funding issues and low pay to those attorneys appointed, and you have many potential issues of concern about the system as a whole.  Lets see what you think!

The Questions:

1. Should all defendants have a right to an attorney in all criminal proceedings?  Include municipal courts in your discussion.  For example, do you think a defendant in a class C criminal jury or bench trial should be appointed an attorney if they cannot afford one?  If you think the system is fine as is, explain why.

2. Should defendants have a say in who is chosen as their attorney and why?  If not, should there be certain standards for who is appointed to represent a defendant?  Explain you answer.

3. Take it one step further.  A few states are pushing for the appointment of attorneys for indigent person(s) in civil cases where the case involves "basic human needs".  Should Texas pass a law that in civil cases that involve "basic human needs", an attorney should be appointed for indigent person(s)?  If so, this would have to go through the legislative process.  Do you think it would pass the legislature in Texas?  Would it get public support?

NOTE:  In answering your question, use the  optional materials below and your own research as necessary to back up your opinion.

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