September 24, 2019

Letter from Judge Darlene Byrne

September 19, 2019

Dear Austin Lawyers:

As you may know, Judges such as myself in Travis County preside over civil child welfare cases filed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (“DFPS”) involving allegations of child abuse and neglect.  Right now in Travis County, there are approximately 1000 active child welfare cases involving some 1500 children.  State law requires that each child and indigent parent involved in these cases receive court appointed counsel.  In an effort to ensure these important cases and parties receive quality legal representation, the Travis County Civil District Courts maintain a list of attorneys available for appointment.  Currently, we have a great need for additional attorneys (including English-only attorneys and Bilingual English/Spanish-speaking attorneys) on this appointment list.

Please consider whether you are able to help us serve the children and families of Travis County by applying to add your name to this attorney appointment list, especially if you are an attorney with fluency in both Spanish and English.  Placing your name on the list would mean your agreement to be appointed to represent children or parents in cases in which DFPS is seeking court-ordered family safety services, oversight of foster care placements, legal custody of children and/or termination of parental rights.  You could control the number of cases you receive. I believe you will find that these cases will allow you to perform a meaningful legal service for some of the most vulnerable children and families in our community.

If you would like more information or would like to apply to be added to the list, please contact Annie Melendez, Executive Director at the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas (512-472-1311). Applications require the completion of minimum mandatory CLE, but LRS can assist in referring you to available trainings to help meet the CLE requirements.  Attorneys with relevant past experience or those who are able to represent Spanish-speaking clients may apply for a CLE waiver.  Thank you for your consideration and we hope to see you on the child welfare dockets.

Sincerely,

Judge Darlene Byrne
126th District Court of Travis County

TRAVIS COUNTY COURTHOUSE
P. O. BOX 1748
AUSTIN, TEXAS  78767