Grant Awarded for Thomas Trial Costs

The following is a news release from the Texoma Council of Governments:

The cost of prosecuting a capital murder is always an unexpected drain on a County's budget. In addition to the prosecution costs, a County is required to pay for the defense costs of the indigent accused.

Such was the case in the Andre Thomas trial brought to resolution this year by Grayson County Criminal District Attorney Joseph D. Brown.

But the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense has a program designed to assist counties that have experienced extraordinary indigent defense expenses. The funds are provided on a competitive, discretionary basis to reimburse a county for actual legal expenses of indigent criminal defendants.

There were 5 awards made for 2005 on Friday from this program totaling $316,000. And Grayson County will receive $100,000 to offset the costs of the Andre Thomas trial. Indigent defense expenses place a burden on local taxpayers. The state steps in with this funding when asked.

Sarah Somers at Texoma Council of Governments wrote this application that resulted in the maximum possible award: $100,000. The other Texas counties receiving funding were: Collingsworth County: $5,000; Concho County - $33,974; Houston County: $61,026; Hunt County: $100,000; San Augustine County: $16,000

This is the second grant received by Grayson County for this trial. Ms. Somers also wrote a grant application that resulted in an award of $157,985 from the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division, for the prosecution costs of this trial. Texoma Council of Governments, the regional planning commission for Cooke, Fannin and Grayson Counties, steps in to help with criminal justice planning and funding needs.

Grayson County Judge, Tim McGraw, asked for help from TCOG when local officials realized that the County's indigent defense expenditures for the current budget year would exceed $1 million. The total grant funds of $257,985 resulting from TCOG's help is a good example of how local governments can work together to keep costs of the administration of justice down for the taxpayers.