2018 Louisiana Laws
Revised Statutes
TITLE 15 - Criminal Procedure
RS 15:185.4 - Standards and guidelines for representation of indigent parents; rulemaking

Universal Citation: LA Rev Stat § 15:185.4 (2018)

§185.4. Standards and guidelines for representation of indigent parents; rulemaking

            A. The board shall adopt all rules necessary to implement the provisions of R.S. 15:185.1 through 185.9.

            B. The rules shall include but not be limited to:

            (1) Creating mandatory statewide standards and guidelines for the representation, including curatorship appointments, of indigent or absent parents in child abuse and neglect cases that require those services to be provided in a manner that is uniformly fair and consistent throughout the state and recognizing the unique and critical role of parents' attorneys in safeguarding fundamental rights and promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children in the child welfare system.

            (2) Ensuring the standards and guidelines shall take into consideration all of the following:

            (a) Manageable indigent or absent parent representation workloads. The board shall adopt manageable indigent or absent parent representation workloads that permit the rendering of competent representation through an empirically based case-weighting system that does not count all cases of similar case type equally but rather denotes the actual amount of attorney effort needed to bring a specific case to an appropriate disposition.

            (b) Continuity of representation. The board shall adopt standards and guidelines which ensure that each district devises a plan to provide that to the extent feasible and practicable the same attorney handles a case from appointment contact through completion in all cases.

            (c) Documentation of communication. The board shall adopt standards and guidelines to ensure that defense attorneys providing indigent or absent parent representation provide documentation of communications with clients to meet standards and guidelines established by the board.

            (d) Performance supervision protocols. The board shall adopt standards and guidelines to ensure that all defense attorneys providing indigent or absent parent representation undergo periodic review of their work against the performance standards and guidelines in a fair and consistent manner throughout the state, including creating a uniform evaluation protocol.

            (e) Performance of attorneys in all assigned indigent or absent parent representation cases or curatorship appointments. The board shall adopt general standards and guidelines that alert defense counsel to courses of action that may be necessary, advisable, or appropriate to providing competent indigent or absent parent representation or curatorship appointments, including performance standards in the nature of job descriptions.

            (3) Creating mandatory qualification standards for attorneys representing indigent or absent parents in child abuse and neglect cases that ensure that those services are provided by competent counsel. Qualification standards shall include both of the following:

            (a) The specific training programs that must be completed to provide representation, including curatorship appointments, to indigent or absent parents.

            (b) The number of years the public defender has spent in the practice of law in good standing with the Louisiana State Bar Association.

            (4) Establishing methods of evaluating and enforcing compliance with mandatory statewide standards and guidelines for representing indigent parents.

            (5) Establishing methods of monitoring and evaluating compliance with the mandatory indigent or absent parent representation standards and guidelines and the performance of counsel in order to ensure competent representation of indigent parents in all courts of the state.

            (6) Establishing a procedure for the review and disposition of client complaints.

            (7) Establishing appropriate sanctions for failure to adhere to the mandatory standards and guidelines for the delivery of indigent or absent parent representation.

            (8) Establishing a policy of selecting a proportionate number of minority and women attorneys in accordance with the makeup of the general population of the state, to the extent that minority and women attorneys are available and otherwise eligible for selection within each district in accordance with law. Any citizen of majority age shall have a cause of action to enjoin the activities of the board for failure to comply with this provision.

            (9) Establishing policies and procedures for ensuring that cases are handled according to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

            (10) Establishing policies and procedures for handling conflict of interest cases and overflow cases when workload standards which are established by rules of the board are breached.

            (11) Establishing policies and procedures to ensure that detailed expenditure and workload data is collected, recorded, and reported to support strategic planning efforts for the system.

            (12) Ensuring data collected, including workload, is collected and maintained in a uniform and timely manner throughout the state to allow the board sound data to support resource needs.

            (13) Providing for minimum salary and compensation standards for attorney, investigator, paraprofessional, and any and all other staff necessary for the adequate representation, including curatorship appointments, of indigent or absent parents comparable to other positions of similar stature throughout the state.

            (14) Establishing processes and procedures to ensure that when a case that is assigned presents a conflict of interest for an attorney providing indigent or absent parent representation, the conflict is identified and handled appropriately and ethically.

            (15) Establishing procedures for managing workloads and assigning cases in a manner that ensures that attorneys representing indigent or absent parents are assigned cases according to experience, training, and manageable workloads and caseloads, taking into account case complexity, potential outcomes of the case, and the legal skills required to provide effective assistance of counsel.

            (16) Establishing procedures to handle complaints about attorney performance and to ensure that attorneys, office personnel, and clients are aware of avenues available for bringing a complaint and that office procedures do not conflict with the supervisory jurisdiction of the Louisiana Supreme Court and pursuant to the court's inherent authority provided for in Article V, Section 5 of the Constitution of Louisiana.

            C. All rules shall be adopted pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act and shall be subject to legislative oversight by the House Committee on Health and Welfare and the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare.

            Acts 2007, No. 95, §2; Acts 2016, No. 407, §2, eff. June 5, 2016.

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