ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- Judge Downing Bolls says Taylor County is short on court-appointed attorneys.
“Court-appointed attorneys are basically put in place for people who can’t afford an attorney,” said Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls.
Judge Bolls says more children in the area have been exposed to drug use.
“In 2015 or so we had a huge escalation in CPS cases,” said Judge Bolls.
So, there became a greater need for legal representation in family court.
“The legal system has certain guarantees that go into it, in terms of representation and who is entitled to it,” said Judge Bolls.
If there was a case that included a mother, father, and their five children, each person would be entitled to their own attorney. So representing a family of seven comes with a greater cost.
“Paid by the county, using taxpayer dollars,” said Judge Bolls. “By law, paying for court appointed attorneys comes out of the general fund,” said Judge Bolls.
Judge Bolls says some areas have needed more representation each year.
“Five years ago, we were paying in the neighborhood of a little over 2 and a half million for court-appointed attorneys, this year we paid $4.5 million,” said Judge Bolls.
Bolls says they are anticipating it will be around $5-6 million in this next year.
“I wish I could say litigation was going down, but they are not, they are going up. I wish I could say fewer people are breaking the law, but they are not. I wish I could say we have less of a drug problem than we do, but we don’t. This is the reality of where we are,” said Judge Bolls.
To combat the greater need of court-appointed attorneys, Judge Bolls says they will be looking at increasing the pay during the upcoming budget hearings to satisfy the amount of work the attorneys are taking on.