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  • Who does OCFW represent?
    OCFW has the privilege of representing death-sentenced persons and persons convicted on the bases of flawed forensic science in Texas state court post-conviction proceedings. OCFW does not represent persons on direct appeal from their convictions or in federal habeas corpus proceedings.
  • What kinds of claims are raised in post-conviction proceedings?
    The only claims that may generally be raised in Texas post-conviction proceedings are claims that a conviction or sentence is unconstitutional. Typically, these claims might involve questions of ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, intellectual disability, competency to stand trial or to be executed, false evidence, unreliable forensic evidence, or innocence.
  • Are there guidelines that govern OCFW’s work?
    OCFW is committed to providing excellent post-conviction representation and following best practices as described in State Bar of Texas Guidelines and Standards for Texas Capital Counsel (2006), and the Supplementary Guidelines and Standards for the Mitigation Function of Defense Teams in Texas Death Penalty Cases (2015).
  • How does OCFW become involved in a case?
    Two ways. In death penalty cases, Texas law provides a right to post- conviction representation. Where a death-sentenced person is in need of representation, the convicting court will appoint OCFW or other qualified counsel. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 11.071 sec. 2. In non-capital cases involving forensic science, OCFW handles cases referred to it by the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Once a case is referred, OCFW reviews the case to determine whether it can represent the individual and investigates to determine whether questionable forensic science, negligence, or misconduct contributed to the conviction. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 38.01 sec. 4(h); Tex. Admin. Code §651.307.
  • Is a Court required to appoint OCFW where the need for post-conviction representation exists in death penalty cases?
    When a person is sentenced to death, they have the right to have an attorney appointed to investigate and litigate all possible constitutional claims affecting their conviction or sentence. In these cases, the convicting court must appoint OCFW to provide this representation, unless OCFW communicates to the court that it is unable to accept a case due to other case obligations, a conflict of interest, a lack of resources, or other good cause. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 11.071 sec. 2; Tex. Govt. Code 78.054. Death sentenced persons challenging their conviction or sentence in second or successive post-conviction challenges are entitled to representation. In these cases, OCFW will be appointed, if it is able to accept an assignment, only if the attorney who has filed the successive post-conviction writ is unable to continue representing their client. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 11.071 sec. 6(b-1).
  • What happens if OCFW cannot take a death penalty case?
    A convicting court is required to appoint other qualified counsel off a list maintained by the presiding judges of the Texas Administrative Judicial Regions. That list is available here. Where OCFW is unable to provide representation, the costs of representation are borne by the county of conviction.
  • How is OCFW funded?
    OCFW receives appropriations from the Texas Legislature, largely from a general revenue-dedicated account that is restricted to the funding of indigent defense in Texas.
  • Who else represents death-sentenced persons in Texas?
    In Texas state courts, capital post-conviction representation is provided by OCFW and other appointed counsel. Death-sentenced persons are also entitled to representation in federal court in federal habeas proceedings. In federal habeas, representation is provided by a combination of Federal Public Defender Capital Habeas Units (“CHUs”) and private counsel appointed under 18 U.S.C. 3599. There are two CHUs located in Texas; one in Austin, the other in Dallas.
  • Must OCFW be notified of every execution-date setting in Texas?
    In 2015, in order to ensure that the attorneys representing death-sentenced persons have notice of an execution date being scheduled, the Texas Legislature amended Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 43.141 to require that, no later than the second business day after the date on which a convicting court sets an execution date, a copy of the order must be served on the attorney representing the death-sentenced person and the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the execution date-setting order being vacated. Service of orders and other process pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 43.141 may be accomplished electronically at
  • Where can I find out who represents a particular person?
    The best place to find out who represents a death-sentenced person in Texas state court is to check the online dockets of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals or those maintained by District Clerk in the county of conviction. To find out who might represent someone in federal habeas corpus proceedings, the best place to look is on PACER, the federal court records look-up system.
  • I think the forensic science evidence in my case was problematic. Can OCFW represent me?
    The Texas Government Code only permits OCFW to handle non-capital cases that are referred to it by the Forensic Science Commission. See Tex. Govt. Code 78.054. If you believe that the forensic evidence used to convict you was false, misleading, or the product of negligence or misconduct, you might consider filing a complaint with the Forensic Science Commission. If there were problems with the science underlying your conviction, you may have grounds to file an application for writ of habeas corpus.
  • I think the forensic science evidence in my case was problematic. What does the Texas Forensic Science Commission do and how do I file a complaint?
    The Forensic Science Commission investigates complaints alleging professional negligence or misconduct that would substantially affect the integrity of the results of a forensic analysis conducted by an accredited crime laboratory. The Commission also has jurisdiction to investigate non- accredited forensic disciplines and non-accredited entitles under more limited circumstances, such as to make observations regarding best practices or for educational purposes. For the purposes of the Commission’s jurisdiction, the term “forensic analysis” includes any medical, chemical, toxicological, ballistic, or other expert examination or test performed on physical evidence, including DNA evidence, for the purpose of determining the connection of the evidence to a criminal action. For more information about the Forensic Science Commission, please visit their website. To file a complaint with the Forensic Science Commission, please visit here.
  • How do I find court decisions in Texas criminal cases?
    The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will have case information relating to post-conviction writs, capital direct appeals, and petitions for discretionary review, among other matters. Opinions in Court of Criminal Appeals cases can be found here, or through a commercial legal research service. Opinions by federal courts can be searched through PACER or a commercial legal research service. Opinions from the Supreme Court can be found here or through a commercial legal research service. Trial court docket information can generally be found online by visiting the district clerk of a particular county.
  • Where can I look up the statutes that apply to post-conviction in Texas?
    Article 11 of the Code of Criminal Procedure contains the law governing writs in Texas. Article 43.141 governs the setting of execution dates. Article 46.05 governs competency to be executed proceedings. Article 64 governs post-conviction DNA testing. The Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure govern appellate practice in Texas.
  • I am confined on a non-capital felony. How do I challenge my conviction or sentence?
    Article 11.07 governs writs of habeas corpus seeking relief from final felony convictions. Please note that Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 73.1 requires that all Article 11.07 applications be on a form prescribed for that purpose by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
  • Where can I get help with filing a writ in a non-capital case?
    Texas courts may appoint counsel to help an indigent person litigate a non- capital writ, see, e.g., Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 11.07 sec. 3, and are empowered to appoint counsel to represent indigent persons in any criminal proceeding where the interests of justice require it. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 1.051(c). In addition, there are other organizations in the state that may be able to help. The Harris County Public Defender represents a limited number of persons convicted in that county on post-conviction writs. In addition, the Innocence Project of Texas and innocence clinics housed within Texas law schools may be able to help.
  • General Resources
    State Bar of Texas (2023–2024 Referral Directory, Legal Services and Other Resources for Low-Income Texans) Texas Court Help Texas Law Help Texas Office of Court Adminstration Texas State Law Library Texas Center for Justice & Equity (maintains a list of community resources, including community health, education assistance, legal aid services, employment services, which are searchable by Texas county).
  • I need an attorney. Where can I find one?
    State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Program Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas Legal Aid North and Panhandle: Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas East/Southeast Texas: Lone Star Legal Aid South and West Texas: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Texas Legal Services Center Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans
  • Where can I find information about Texas courts and civil legal information (including assistance for pro se litigants and referrals to legal organizations)?
    Texas Law Help - Texas Legal Services Center Texas Office of Court Administration, Programs and Services
  • Where can I find out more about public defense and indigent defense in Texas?
    Texas Indigent Defense Commission (T.I.D.C.) List of Texas public defender programs Texas mental health public defense programs Texas Fair Defense Project Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU Dedman School of Law Texas A&M Public Policy Research Institute Texas Indigent Defense Data (T.I.D.C.)
  • Where can I find out indigent defense attorney workload information?
    TIDC Indigent Defense Attorney Caseload Report 2023 National Public Defense Workload Study (Rand Corporation)
  • Where can I find data about the criminal legal system in Texas?
    Texas Justice Initiative Texas Center for Justice and Equality
  • Where can I find Texas mental health resources?
    Texas Judicial Council on Mental Health: Resources and Innovations Map Community Resource Coordination Groups [Texas Health and Human Services] (County-based local partners and community organizations that provide services for behavioral health, basic needs, and caregiver support.) National Alliance on Mental Illness Texas
  • Where can I find information and services for persons with intellectual developmental disabilities?
    The ARC of Texas
  • Where can I find information about parental and family resources in CPS cases?
    Texas Childrens’ Commission Parent Resource Guide
  • Where can I find information about TDCJ policies and help for families of incarcerated persons?
    Texas Inmate Families Association TDCJ Guide for Families of Inmates TDCJ Guía de Información Para Familias De Los Reclusos TDCJ Offender Orientation Handbook
  • Where can I get information about Texas jail and prison issues?
    Texas Jail Project
  • Where can I get information on disability-related issues?
    Disability Rights Texas
  • Where can I find help with eviction?
    Texas Courts' Eviction Diversion Program
  • Where can I learn more about the death penalty?
    Death Penalty Information Center (data and analysis on issues concerning capital punishment and the people it affects) Texas Defender Service Capital Punishment Center, University of Texas at Austin, School of Law TDCJ Death Row Information
  • How do I contact the Innocence Projects in Texas?
    Innocence Project Innocence Project of Texas University of Texas School of Law Innocence Clinic Texas Innocence Network, based at University of Houston Law Center. Thurgood Marshall School of Law Innocence Project: Texas Tech University School of Law
  • Where can I find help on access to counsel issues, fine-only misdemeanor cases (Class C), and court fines, fees or bonds?
    Texas Fair Defense Project
  • I have an issue with my attorney. What resources are available to me?
    State Bar of Texas: Client-Attorney Assistance Program: Attorney Grievances
  • My loved one is going to be released from incarceration soon. Where can I find Texas reentry resources?
    Texas Center for Justice and Equality County Resources Locator
  • Who handles complaints of judicial misconduct in Texas?
    Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct
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