Come January 1, one of the perks of being a state criminal judge may be legislated out of existence. No longer would judges have the unfettered discretion to appoint lawyers for indigent defendants. No longer would there be a patronage system--or at least the appearance of one--that allows judges to dole out court appointments to lawyers who support them politically. Ultimately the new law envisions dismantling an indigent-defense system that its critics say is a national embarrassment that denies equal justice for the poor. That is, if each of the state's 254 counties follows the spirit of the recently enacted Texas Fair Defense Act, and... More >>>