Acceptance criteria require, in part, that Texas attorneys who wish to participate in TST complete an application and receive a recommendation from their primary or appointing judge. In addition, attorney applicants must meet the following minimum criteria at the time of their application:
- Attorneys representing parents and/or children must have substantially participated in at least two contested Adversary (262) Hearings.
- Attorneys representing DFPS must have substantially participated in at least three contested Adversary (262) Hearings.
Attorneys who have not completed the minimum number of contested Adversary Hearings set out above do not qualify for this training.
Please also note that attorneys representing parents and/or children as first chair or co-chair in more than twelve contested final bench trials and/or more than two jury trials would be considered overqualified for this training. Attorneys representing DFPS who have substantially participated as first chair or co-chair in more than fifteen contested final termination bench trials and/or more than two jury trials would be considered overqualified for this training. Also, attorneys who have served as second chair on more than four contested final jury trials would be considered overqualified for this training.
Substantial participation includes, but is not limited to, preparing for the contested hearing, presenting an opening statement (if applicable), conducting direct and cross examination of witnesses (other than to obtain locating information or identity information for your client), making and responding to objections, and/or making a closing argument (if applicable). Serving as a co-chair includes dividing trial duties roughly equally and/or substantially participating in the activities outlined above.
In addition to the practice/experience criteria listed above, applicants must be:
- Licensed to practice in Texas;
- In good standing with the State Bar of Texas;
- Currently accepting court appointments or representing DFPS on the child welfare docket; and
- Supported by their primary or appointing judge to participate in the Trial Skills Training.
Applicants will be chosen based on the minimum criteria listed above as well as additional desired criteria provided in their application response, taking into account the equal representation of all three groups of attorneys and geographic diversity.
Preference may be given to those applicants who have the above level of experience and who devote a minimum of 25% of their law practice to child welfare cases. The Children’s Commission will contact each applicant’s judge to inquire about the applicant’s suitability for the TST once the application period has closed.
For more information about the TST program, please review the information below.