Common Questions

Common Questions About The MAC

What is the MAC Office?

MAC stands for Managed Assigned Counsel. The MAC office will primarily function as a reestablishment of the current system for managing court appointments between court appointed (or panel) attorneys. Currently, court appointments for misdemeanor cases—in addition to qualifications for becoming panel attorneys—are determined by the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law judges. The MAC office will therefore exist as an independent entity within Harris County for the purposes of managing court appointments and determining qualifications for becoming panel attorneys. The MAC office will secondarily function as a support system for panel attorneys. Through our office, we plan to have attorneys on staff to assist panel attorneys with case coordination, litigation support, and trial skills progression. Additionally, we plan to have an immigration attorney on staff to assist panel attorneys with clients impacted by such issues; social workers on staff to assist with client needs apart from litigation as well as to provide mitigation assistance; and an investigator on staff to assist with outsourcing investigation to help with case theory development. Our MAC office will also provide internal training support for our panel attorneys.

Is a MAC Office the same as a Public Defender’s Office (PDO)?

No. The MAC and PDO are the same in that both offices provide holistic services for the benefit of clients who cannot afford an attorney. The difference is that the MAC Office primarily supports private attorneys who provide direct representation to indigent clients. The public defender’s office hires attorneys to provide direct representation to indigent clients.

What is a panel attorney?

A panel attorney is a private attorney who has an independent law firm with clients who pay for direct representation. A private attorney becomes a panel attorney when in addition to their private practice, they also accept appointments of cases for clients who cannot afford representation.

How do I become a panel attorney?

To become a panel attorney, interested applicants will need to apply through the MAC office to be placed on an appointment list. We are in the process of evaluating the current requirements necessary to be placed on the appointment list. Once that evaluation is complete, an announcement will be made through our website.

Is the MAC office accepting applications to become a panel attorney?

Not at this time. Due to the infancy of this program and necessity to hire staff, the MAC office is neither receiving appointments nor accepting applications to become a panel attorney. Once the MAC office is fully operational, an announcement will be made accordingly. Until that time, all misdemeanor appointments and panel attorney applications will proceed through the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law.

Is the MAC office accepting employment applications to become staff?

Yes. Please continue to visit our website for updates regarding employment opportunities which will be coming soon!

Are panel attorneys employed by the MAC?

No. Panel attorneys function as independent contractors but receive appointments through the MAC Office. The MAC Office supports panel attorneys in their representation for their appointed cases only.

Does the MAC office report to judges, prosecutors, or panel attorneys?

None of the above. While the MAC office is a Harris County Department, it exists as an independent entity for purposes of managing appointments among panel attorneys. The MAC office reports directly to the Harris County Commissioners Court.

Does the MAC office handle appointments for all criminal cases in Harris County?

No. The MAC Office only handles appointments for misdemeanor cases (i.e. the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law). At this time, the MAC office does not handle appointments for juvenile or felony cases (i.e. the Harris County Criminal District Courts).

Is this the only MAC office in the State of Texas?

No. Out of the 254 counties in Texas, there are three other MAC Offices which exist in Lubbock County, Collin County, and Travis County.