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Criminal case docket management

Overview

Criminal docket control and implementation of the District Attorney's open file policy is all handled at the inception of the case through two orders, one standing order for docket control (See Forms and Files) and a scheduling order for each case.

All criminal settings occur at the time of arraignment. It is the goal of the district courts that the time from indictment to trial be 120 days. Starting in 2008 the only standard setting other than arraignment is a "Status Docket" at which time it is expected that either a trial track or a plea track is selected.

Scheduling

There is filed in each case a scheduling order, entitled ORDER SETTING MOTIONS, DISCOVERY & TRIAL SCHEDULE and PRETRIAL NOTICE UNDER ARTICLE 28.01 C.C.P. bearing the Status Docket date.

A copy is available at arraignment for the State, Defense Counsel and Defendant. When the defendant appears without counsel both defendant and defense counsel copies are delivered to the defendant and it is the responsbility of the defendant to relay a copy to counsel when hired.

In that scheduling order your particular attention is drawn to the following section which provides that in order to move from the trial docket to the plea docket the following must be filed: The Plea Negotiation Agreement AND a Waiver of Jury trial, waived by both the defendant and the State:

 REQUIREMENTS WHEN A BARGAIN IS REACHED: File with the clerk (a) the promulgated plea bargain agreement and (b) a written waiver of jury trial, each signed by the defendant and both lawyers, and send the defendant immediately to CSCD for preparation of a PSI (or notify CSCD if defendant is in jail). Fax a copy of both papers to the Court Coordinator.
Docket Control

There is a Standing Order (effective 1/1/2007, for which extra copies are not filed in each case, governing docket control and discovery matters entitled ORDER GOVERNING MOTIONS, DISCOVERY & TRIAL APPEARANCES, and SUPPLEMENTAL DISCOVERY ORDERS). All counsel are responsible, as with all other contents of the file, to be aware of and follow that order. 

Lastly, a graphical aid exists to help you follow the flow of these procedures.  All of these forms are available in Forms and Files.

Criminal Pretrial days (this section edited 2/2/2011)

On criminal pretrial dockets both sides are expected to be prepared to conduct the business of the docket without the need for defense counsel to first confer with their clients. This implies certain requirements, as follows:
  • Motions will be ready to be heard unless a settlement announcement is made.
  • Pleas will be paper-ready, excepting only (if necessary) swearing in front of the clerk.
  • At the status docket, the defense will announce, only, for a plea docket setting, a trial setting, or a formal Art. 28.01 pretrial setting.
  • i.e. defense counsel will have done all client conferring prior to the day of the docket.
  • There will not be time allocated during court for conferring with clients.
  • In Burnet, counsel may not see their clients in the holding facility as in the past (see below about jail visits).
  • All of the above requires that the State convey offers early on, that both sides confer early and often, so that COURT business can be conducted on court days!
If a matter is not ready due to a defendant having failed to get into the attorney's office (and counsel will be asked if such is the case), realize that the Court may then become concerned about the ability to get that defendant to court in the future.

Readiness for trial

All cases remaining on the trial docket on the trial date are subject to trial. Both the state and defense must be ready.

That means that the state must be giving offers to the defense and the defense must be diligent in seeking those offers and in obtaining discovery. The docket control order has not changed. The setting method used since 1/1/08 (only arraignment and status docket is pre-set) has not changed.  

Keep in mind that cases don't get on a trial docket except by both sides and the court determining a date that all attorneys have said they can be ready. Therefore, it should be neither surprise nor burden for every case then remaining to be subject to being called for trial.

Visiting your clients incarcerated in Burnet County

Effective Feb 1, 2011 it will no longer be possible for attorneys to visit their incarcerated clients in the courthouse (annex) holding facility. This is due to requirements of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Therefore, it is imperative that attorneys plan ahead and arrange to see their clients at the jail. The jail has given assurance that attorneys will be given precedence and prompt service in access to their clients, provided that reasonable advance notice is given and that you see them according to the following schedule:

Monday   8A-10:30A and 2P-4:30P
   
Tuesday  8A-10:30A and 2P-4:30p

Wed.      2p-4:30p

Thurs.    8A-10:30A and 2P-4:30P

Friday    8A-10:30a and 2p-4:30p


About your clients

Dress code for your clients

(updated 2007-03-09) -- a reminder is needed on this point. Please have your staff caution your clients on these matters. Note the bolded language below.

Counselors (primarily, but not exclusively, those on the criminal court side), please make sure your clients show up with proper attire. The rules briefly are (as you well know):

  • No logo advertising t-shirts (Polo and the like with subtle emblems are OK). The target is the football sweatshirt, rock band pictures, Harley shirts and the like.
  • No hats.
  • No sunglasses inside unless by doctor's prescription.
  • Shirts tucked into pants (men).
  • All clothing clean.
  • Your clients who show up otherwise will either be sent home to change and if not returning by the time their case is called will be subject to forfeiture of bond; or, bond may immediately be forfeited and your client incarcerated if the court has concern about flight at that point.

Please help with this. The sloppiness has just about gotten on my last nerve! Today (2007-03-09) it DID get on my last nerve!

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