Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX (Sept. 27, 2019) – The Hays County Commissioners Court Tuesday approved a $342,720 grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) to implement a first-of-its-kind Regional Padilla Compliance Pilot Program. Under Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010) defense attorneys are required to provide individualized counsel to their clients whose immigration status could be affected by a conviction.
“This grant for the Padilla program will fill a gap in our ongoing review of the countywide criminal justice reform program we’re undertaking,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, who sits on the Hays County Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission, said. “We hope defense attorneys embrace the expert assistance that will be available for their clients’ defense.”
While most large cities and counties already have dedicated staff to help inform and guide defense attorneys, most small or rural counties do not. The grant will allow Hays County to administer a multi-county program through the Texas non-profit myPadilla, which provides defense attorneys with an online platform to interview clients, submit secure intake forms, and receive written advisory information individualized for each of their clients. The project will also provide instruction to defense attorneys on Padilla compliance and use of the online program.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell, also a member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission, said that commission members are excited about the program – the first of its kind in the state – and that it would kick off as soon as administrative policies are in effect. He also thanked the County’s grants administration team for their work on applying to TIDC for the grant, and TIDC for providing the grant and helping with the application process.
The grant funds will be used to compensate remote Padilla attorneys for providing expert assistance to defense attorneys in Hays and neighboring counties. If the program is successful, it is expected to be expanded ultimately to the 26 counties of the 3rd Administrative Judicial Region.
No matching funds are required from the County.