County receives funds to help mentally ill defendants

The Texas Indigent Defense Commission awarded Collin County more than $250,000 for a new managed assigned counsel program to provide defense services to mentally ill defendants.

The program, which begins Oct. 1, will be modeled on programs previously created and funded in Lubbock and Montgomery Counties.

Judge John Roach Jr. of the 296th District Court said, “We are looking forward to collaborating with the various departments on the persistent problems and issues that defendants with mental illness pose. Our job in the courts is to ensure effective counsel and processes with just result.”

The award was part of $11.8 million in funding to 99 Texas counties to help improve their indigent defense efforts, by setting up new programs or refunding existing programs related to indigent defense across the state.

Approximately 60 counties were awarded $2 million to help offset increased indigent defense costs. In addition, nine county programs were awarded discretionary funding to establish new indigent defense offices or procedures, along with continued funding for 11 other county programs.

The commission, formerly the Task Force on Indigent Defense, has distributed funds since 2002 to help counties meet the statutory and constitutional requirements to provide access to counsel for the poor.

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Steve Stoler: Gag order issued in murder case

STEVE STOLER is reporting:

A State District judge has issued a gag order in the Terrance Black murder case. But he decided to wait on making a decision on a change of venue.
Black is accused of killing Plano fitness instructor Susan Loper.
Black’s attorneys argued the publicity surrounding the case would prejudice a local jury. Six witnesses, including five North Texas lawyers testified Black cannot get a fair trial in McKinney.
Judge John Roach Jr. decided to wait until jury selection before making a ruling.



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