Texas Bar Foundation will invest $23,500 in protective order initiative

Last year, the Texas Advocacy Project provided legal services to 9,718 Texans, including hundreds of callers seeking information about protective orders for victims of abuse. According to the group, those who receive protective orders are 80 percent less likely to be re-victimized than those who do not.

But for various reasons, victims don’t always receive them.

In an effort to confront the issue, the Texas Advocacy Project’s Protective Order Call Back Initiative enlists retired attorneys to call back victims who have previously worked with the group but have experience obstacles in obtaining protective orders. In support of the cause, the Texas Bar Foundation has announced plans to invest $23,500 in the Protective Order Call Back Initiative.

“Often times, the legal system can be intimidating and challenging,” said Heather Bellino, executive director of the Texas Advocacy Project. “But the Protective Order Call Back Initiative will give us the opportunity to make sure our clients are able to get safe.”

For more information, to go texasadvocacyproject.org or txbf.org. If you or someone you know needs help, call (800) 374-HOPE.

Texas Counties to Receive Additional Appropriations for Indigent Defense

AUSTIN – The Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) adopted a budget that allocates $35 million to the indigent defense formula grant program. The budget reflects a $15 million increase over the previous year thanks to legislative action to ensure that all dedicated funds collected specifically for indigent defense will again be available for that purpose. As a result, most counties will be eligible for a special formula grant disbursement in the new fiscal year that begins October 1. Counties in compliance with key provisions of the Fair Defense Act will be eligible to apply for formula grants. "We look forward to getting these dedicated funds out to counties in the coming months so that they can be put to work for indigent defense as intended," said Commission Chair Sharon Keller.

The Commission awarded discretionary grant funds to 21 Texas counties totaling more than $10 million dollars. Among these are nine counties who will be collaborating to support implementation of a web-based indigent defense process management system initially developed by Bell County with through grant funding from the Commission. The system is designed to improve representation and compliance with the Fair Defense Act through enhanced transparency, accountability and efficiency. These nine counties will join a collaborative effort through the Conference of Urban Counties TechShare Program to provide ongoing support, maintenance and development of the system. Commissioner and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said, "The application of technology has opened new opportunities to understand, manage and improve our indigent defense systems. These grants will help counties reap the benefits of innovation."

Finally, the Commission awarded a total of $628,108 to Austin County, Dimmit County, Kleberg County, Smith County, and Willacy County for extraordinary indigent defense expenditures in a case or series of cases. To be eligible for extraordinary grant awards, counties must demonstrate the extraordinary nature of the case or series of cases and direct litigation costs for indigent defense services are the only allowable expenditures.