Caprock Regional Public Defender Office
The Caprock Regional Public Defender Office and Clinic is dedicated to serving the community by representing defendants in criminal cases who would otherwise be unable to afford their own legal representation. The Caprock Regional Public Defender Office and Clinic works to give access to legal counsel and increase the quality of representation provided to indigent citizens accused of crimes. The program is the first of its kind in Texas and is the prototype for representation of indigent clients.
Students accepted into this clinic will have the opportunity to represent clients facing felony, misdemeanor and juvenile offenses in a multi county region. The Caprock Regional Public Defender Officer and Clinic currently serves over ten counties. The Clinic includes eight third year law students. Students are fully responsible for their cases, from intake through disposition. Students are closely supervised at all stages of their cases by Donnie Yandell, Chief Public Defender.
The classroom component of the Clinic focuses on skills development, ethics, and case strategy, and is taught by Professor Patrick S. Metze, Director of Criminal Clinics. Students also have the opportunity to hone their writing skills by drafting a multitude of motions and briefs relating to their cases.
How We Started
The burden of providing to legal representation to the poor as required by both the United States and Texas Constitution has historically been left completely to the counties. However, since 2001, counties have been able to receive state funds to help offset those burdens through the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.
On June 9, 2010, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (then known as the Task Force on Indigent Defense) approved over $2.5 million in new funding to Texas counties to improve their indigent defense systems. As part of this grant, Dickens County was awarded $566,701 for the creation of the Caprock Regional Public Defender Office. Under the leadership of Professor Patrick S. Metze, the Texas Tech University School of Law was selected to house the office and chose Donnie Yandell as the Chief Public Defender. During a school year the office serves as an experiential learning platform to teach third year law students how to practice criminal law. When school is not in session, the Chief Public Defender provides legal services to the poor as a full service public defender office. The office began taking cases in January 2011 and graduated its first class in May, 2012. In addition to the Director and Chief Public Defender, the office is fortunate to have Irma Shepler as Office Manager who joined in the Fall 2012.
The Caprock Regional Public Defender Office and Clinic shall represent those indigents charged with felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile offenses in the participating counties. The Caprock Regional Public Defender Office and Clinic shall utilize high quality and cost-effective methods of delivering indigent defense services in a manner that could be a model for replication in other underserved areas.