Brazos County receives grant to create a public defender’s office and oversight board

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 10:43 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -Brazos County Commissioners met Tuesday to approve the creation of the Brazos County Public Defender’s Office and Oversight Board.

The county received a grant $1.8 million grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. The Texas Indigent Defense Commission provides financial support to counties to develop and provide a cost-effective indigent legal defense for residents as outlined in the U.S Constitution and state law.

Courtrooms across the country are seeing a shortage of defense attorneys which is halting the progress of countless criminal cases. It’s with those shortages in mind that county leaders say now is the time for action.

Brazos County Judge Duane Peters says the new public defender’s office will help solve those problems seen not just here in Brazos County but across the county.

Part of the problem is the older attorneys are retiring, several have passed away, and the younger attorneys, there’s just not a pool of attorneys like there had been,” said Peters. “Most counties even smaller than us have got public defenders offices. Since we’re required to provide defense, indigent defense anyway this really does look like it’s the best time.”

Michele Esparza has been practicing law for more than 30 years. She says while the current system in place is running smoothly making changes to ensure that everyone has an adequate defense and a fair trial is important.

“None of us in our community want an innocent person to be found guilty,” said Esparza. “I think at the present time people are being adequately represented but I can see with the backlog from COVID and the future as our county grows that we need a public defender’s office.”

A date for when the new public defender’s office could be open has not been set.

Brazos County leaders briefly discussed the public defender’s office during Tuesday’s meeting. You can view the meeting in the player below.

Sample HTML block

Copyright 2022 KBTX. All rights reserved.