New Jersey Pro Bono Assignments

If you are a private attorney who was recently assigned to represent an indigent defendant for a Parole Revocation, you probably have questions.

PRO BONO ATTORNEY ASSIGNMENT FOR PAROLE REVOCATION

As an attorney admitted in New Jersey, you are responsible for mandatory pro bono service unless you fit within one of the exemption categories. The Administrative Office of the Court’s pro bono computer system maintains an alphabetical list of attorneys eligible for pro bono assignment for each county. When the county pro bono coordinator had a request for a pro bono attorney for the parole revocation, he or she requested a name and the computer generates your name from the list.

You have been assigned to represent an indigent defendant who has been charged with a violation of parole. You will handle meeting with your client who is prison probably, probable cause hearings, and parole revocation hearings. In addition, you will be required to represent your indigent client in any administrative appeal of the Board panel’s decision to the full Parole Board. While the Parole Board’s final decision is appealable to the Appellate Division, you may request the pro bono coordinator assign someone else to handle a court appeal.

REFERENCE MATERIAL

The State has prepared a manual and a video to assist you with understanding the process, as follows:

In short, you will be responsible for the parole revocation hearing for your client. You first need to meet with your client, who may be in prison. An in-person meeting is best, and you will need to contact the prison to schedule an appointment to meet the client. A probable cause hearing may be scheduled already. In addition, the Parole Board panel will have a formal hearing for the possible revocation. Attached is a diagram of the process:

parole-revocation-process

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How are attorneys chosen for pro bono assignment?

Pro bono cases are assigned from a computer list your county maintains of all the attorneys eligible for pro bono assignment in that county. Cases are assigned strictly in order of the list. At the top of the list are attorneys who have had no pro bono assignments, in alphabetical order.

How many hours of pro bono service a year must an attorney provide?

Attorneys are not required to do a certain number of hours per year. Rather, attorneys are required to complete an assigned pro bono case, no matter how many hours that may require.

Could I be exempt from pro bono assignments?

Certain attorneys, such as most full-time government attorneys, are exempt from mandatory pro bono service. Attorneys who are currently not practicing law or are completely retired from practicing law are also exempt. In addition, you could be exempt if you completed 25 hours of voluntary pro bono service for an approved organization during the past year. Each year, the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts issues a list of all the categories of attorneys who are exempt. 2018 Exemptions from Pro Bono Counsel Assignment.

What types of cases are assigned as pro bono cases?

Most mandatory pro bono cases fall within three categories: violation of domestic violence restraining orders; municipal appeals; and parole revocation hearings.

What if I have no previous experience in the type of case assigned to me?

The New Jersey Supreme Court recognized that frequently attorneys who have no experience in the substantive area of the law involved in the pro bono case will be called upon. As the Court said: “Real estate attorneys, corporate counsel, experts in commercial leases, all have been assigned to represent indigent defendants charged with simple assault, driving while intoxicated; all were required not only to learn how to defend those cases but to find out where the courthouse is.” Madden v. Delran, 126 N.J. at 607-08.

What if I don’t have time or I don’t feel comfortable handling a case outside my area of expertise?

We may be able to help you. We understand that attorneys are assigned these hearings without regard to their expertise. The material from the courts is designed to assist you. But if you have additional questions, we can provide insight and advice about the parole revocation process for your pro bono assignment.

Could I transfer my assignment to another law firm?

Your email from the court should have said that if you find this assignment to be out of your area of expertise, you are welcome to ask another attorney to handle this case for you. You will receive credit for the assignment, not the attorney who takes your place. If you find this parole revocation is outside your area of expertise and you wish to retain our firm to take over your assignment, please contact us. We will contact the pro bono coordinator and the Parole Board. Your pro bono requirement will be completed, and your name should drop to the bottom of the assignment list.

Contact us at: 609-201-0155