Appointment of Counsel in Criminal Cases

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version

Appointment of Counsel in Criminal Cases

  1. PURPOSE. This rule is to establish a process for the appointment of private attorneys to represent indigent defendants as provided in Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 29-3901 to 29-3908.
  1. APPLICABILITY. This rule shall not apply to criminal proceedings in which the court appoints the Public Defender or the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy.
  1. GENERAL.
  1. Appointments of private attorneys shall be made on an impartial and equitable basis;
  1. The appointments shall be distributed among the attorneys on a rotation system;
  1. Cases shall be assigned to attorneys of sufficient experience, skill, and competence to render effective assistance of counsel to defendants;
  1. Complex cases shall be assigned to attorneys with sufficient levels of experience and competence to provide adequate representation; and
  1. Less experienced attorneys should be assigned cases which are within their capabilities, but should be given the opportunity to expand their experience under supervision.
  1. COURT-APPOINTED ATTORNEY LIST.
  1. Each clerk magistrate shall maintain a court-appointed attorney list from which attorneys shall be appointed to represent indigent defendants. The list shall include the name, address, phone number, email, and Nebraska bar number for each attorney who is willing to accept appointments to criminal, juvenile, and civil (child support) cases in the judicial district.
     
  2. Attorneys may contact the county court in each county and, by completing and submitting a registration form, request the clerk magistrate to place them on, or remove them from, the respective court’s court-appointed list. A sample registration form is attached, and additional registration forms are available in both the county court offices. (*Note: Separate registration forms need to be completed and submitted for each of the courts, district and county, for each of the counties for which the attorney seeks to be placed upon that respective court appointment list.)
  1. Each clerk magistrate shall make the court-appointed list of attorneys available upon request.
  1. METHOD OF SELECTION FROM COURT-APPOINTED LIST.
  1. The court 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:
  1. the nature and complexity of the case;
  1. an attorney’s experience;
  1. the nature and disposition of the defendant;
  1. a language consideration;
  1. a conflict of interest;
  1. the availability of an attorney, taking into consideration an immediate need to address issues involved in the case;[1]
  1. geographical considerations;[2] and
  1. other relevant factors that may be involved in a specific case.
  1. 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.
  1. REMOVAL AND REINSTATEMENT FROM APPOINTMENT LIST.
  1. 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 court judges.
  1. If an attorney is under consideration for removal from the list, written notification will be given indicating the concerns with his or her performance giving rise to consideration for removal and the attorney will be given the opportunity to respond in writing or in person before a final decision is made.
  1. An attorney who has been removed from the list may be considered for reinstatement by a majority vote of the county judges, after the deficiencies contained in the notice have been resolved.

                [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 the defendant in consulting with a local attorney, and for the convenience of the court in scheduling cases. Qualified attorneys who have an office and practice regularly within the county courts of the 10th Judicial District will receive priority for appointments over attorneys who do not have an office within the 10th Judicial District.

Approved March 11, 2015.