“This report is the result of a request by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) as well as the
Regional Public Defender Office for Capital Cases (RPDO).”
- The RPDO should move the Terrell Office to Dallas, the Burnet Office to Austin, and the Clute Office to Houston.
- RPDO should create additional positions for Regional Managers.
- RPDO should send their Regional Managers to significant leadership, management, and supervisory training.
- RPDO should hire a Director of Training. This person should work with public defenders in Texas to become the primary trainer of persons handling capital cases. The new trainer should work closely with other providers of public defense training to improve training overall in Texas.
- RPDO, TIDC, and other stakeholders need to come together to create a common vision for RPDO.
- A leadership team consisting of the Chief Public Defender, the Deputy, the Director of Training, and the Regional Managers should meet to plan strategically, implement the plan, and advise the Chief Public Defender in leading the organization.
- The newly reconstituted advisory board must strive to meet national standards with the purpose being to provide oversight, support, and independence to RPDO.
- RPDO should reevaluate its salary structure.
- RPDO should reclassify the positions of chief mitigation specialist and chief investigator since there is no supervisory responsibility in those positions.
- RPDO should continue to develop its personnel evaluation system.
- A series of case reviews should take place for all capital cases.
- RPDO should engage in debriefing of all cases, including those that went to trial and those that were resolved with a disposition of less-than-death
- RPDO needs to deal with several outstanding human resource issues.
- Leadership of RPDO, TIDC, and the capital community, should work together to mitigate the tension that occurs naturally between a trial organization and a primarily post-trial organization.
- RPDO should request a mentor from NAPD’s Systems Builders who would commit to being available to give confidential advice.
- RPDO should commit to recruiting and maintaining diversity.
- RPDO should hire persons committed to vigorous death penalty advocacy who do not meet the five-year requirement.
- RPDO should have a pool of money to hire private counsel or temporary employees when staffing cases become impossible.
- RPDO should take steps proactively to address the problem of secondary trauma and burnout. Burnout is becoming a problem in RPDO.
- Attention should be paid by RPDO in collaboration with the capital community to building a culture in RPDO that attracts high quality professionals to work there.
- RPDO AND TIDC should work together to seek additional funding from the State of Texas to fund these recommendations.