B. Counsel also has an obligation to uphold the ethical standards of the State Bar of Texas and to act in accordance with the rules of the court.
To provide competent, quality representation, counsel must be familiar with the substantive criminal law and the law of criminal procedure and its application in the particular jurisdiction, including changes and developments in the law. Counsel must maintain research capabilities necessary for presentation of relevant issues to the court. Counsel should participate in skills training and education programs in order to maintain and enhance skills.
Prior to undertaking the defense of one accused of a crime, counsel should have sufficient experience to provide competent representation for the case. Counsel should accept more serious and complex criminal cases only after having had experience or training in less complex criminal matters. When appropriate, counsel should consult with more experienced attorneys to acquire knowledge and familiarity with all facets of criminal representation, including information about practices of judges, prosecutors, probation officers, and other court personnel.
If representing a client with mental illness or a developmental disability, counsel should become familiar with the symptoms of the client’s mental impairment and those symptoms’ potential impact on the client’s culpability in the case and potential use as a mitigating factor during sentencing. Counsel also should be familiar with the side effects of any medication the client may be taking to treat the client’s mental impairment and the impact those side effects may have on the client’s culpability in the case or use as a mitigating factor during sentencing.
Attorneys who represent individuals who are charged with capital offenses in which the prosecution is seeking death must adhere to the
adopted by the State Bar Board of Directors in 2006.
Before agreeing to act as counsel or accepting appointment by a court, counsel has an obligation to confirm that counsel has available sufficient time, resources, knowledge and experience to offer quality representation to a defendant in a particular matter. If it later appears that counsel is unable to offer quality representation in the case, counsel should move to withdraw.
Counsel has the obligation to maintain regular contact with the client and keep the client informed of the progress of the case, when it is possible to do so. Counsel should promptly comply with a client’s reasonable requests for information, and reply to client correspondence and telephone calls.
Counsel should adequately inform the client of the client’s legal obligations related to the case, such as conditions of release or sentencing terms, and have the client verbally restate the obligations in order to ascertain the client’s understanding of those obligations.
If appointed to represent an indigent client, counsel shall make every reasonable effort to contact the client not later than the end of the first working day after the date on which counsel is appointed, in compliance with Code of Criminal Procedure 26.04(j). In making this contact,