I met with the Lubbock County Board of Judges today about the policy regarding client attendance at PNCâ€™s. As most of you are aware, Judge Ladd recently posted a memo outside his court requiring all clients to personally appear at all PNCâ€™s. Also, all written PNC notifications from the District and CCAL court coordinators require clients to appear at all PNCâ€™s. However, the written local rules (below) adopted by the board of judges does not require client attendance at the initial PNC.
In short, the board of judges told me that attorneys should comply with the written local rules for the time being: YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO BRING YOUR CLIENT TO THE FIRST PNC IN ANY LUBBOCK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT, as long as you are in contact with your client, and in a position to either accept or reject the offer made by the state. You are required to bring your client to subsequent PNCâ€™s. Meanwhile, the judges are to form a committee to look into tweaking all of the local rules, which have not been modified in several years. They promise we will be involved in the process. Thus, we can address other concerns about the PNC system, delinquent plea offers from the CDA, slow discovery response from the CDA, etc.
Rule 5.20(G) of the Local Administrative Rules of the District Courts and County Courts-at-Law of Lubbock County, Texas, reads as follows: “The First Scheduling Conference in felony cases will be held within 30-45 days of the arraignment. In misdemeanor cases, the First Scheduling Conference will be set as soon as possible after the 30th day after the arraignment. The Criminal District Attorney shall make a plea bargain offer, or announce that no offer will be made, at least 10 days prior to the first scheduling conference. At the first scheduling conference, it is not necessary for the defendant to be present, as long as the defense attorney is in contact with the client, and the attorney is in a position to either accept or reject the offer made by the state. If subsequent scheduling conferences are necessary, the defendant must be present at each one. . .” (emphasis supplied).