Pro Bono Civil Appointments
Background and Instructions for Completing
Application to Volunteer and Questionnaire:
A number of civil cases are filed every year in the San Antonio Division of our Court by persons alleging violations of their constitutional and statutory rights. These cases most often involve employment and constitutional rights, including prisoners alleging excessive use of force by their custodians or by law enforcement officers effecting an arrest, employees claiming unlawful discrimination in the workplace, and citizens alleging improper use of government power. While many of these cases are dismissed early in the litigation, a few involve disputed factual issues which require a trial. Few of these litigants are financially able to retain an attorney.
The Court is soliciting the names of attorney volunteers willing to represent these civil litigants in practice areas where the attorney volunteers are experienced and comfortable undertaking representation in conformity with their current practice. Attorneys are appointed most often when disputed factual issues necessitate a jury trial. Occasionally attorneys are appointed for purposes of a mediation conference or for the appellate stage of the proceeding. Litigation expenses may be reimbursed upon application up to $1,500.00. Attorney fees, however, are available only to prevailing parties and recovery may be further limited by statute depending on the claims in issue. While these cases are rarely financially rewarding, they present a unique opportunity for members of the bar to obtain federal trial experience while advocating for some of the most vulnerable in our society.
You are encouraged to indicate your specific area of interest (e.g., prisoner civil rights, employment, etc.), special skills (e.g., Spanish proficiency), and any particular limits on your availability (e.g., no more than one appointment per year, appellate only, etc.). The appointment process will respect your interests, experience and availability. You may ask at any time that your name be removed from the volunteer list temporarily or permanently, and if you are appointed on a case outside your area of expertise you may ask that the appointment be vacated.
The issues in these cases involve some of the most basic in our constitutional democracy. We appreciate your considering this volunteer opportunity.