Agen Judi Pay The Counsel More Money, Judge Says
Pay The Counsel More Money, Judge Says
One eastern state has found that the number of lawyers in three of its biggest counties has stopped wanting to help with indigent criminal cases. The legislative committee was told that the number of attorneys who would help is so small that the system is reaching a severe overload. Judges from this area suggest that the current rates be drastically increased, at least doubled, for attorneys that will volunteer to take on the criminal cases of poor defendants.
One judge talked about the list of people, half of them lawyers will less than three year’s experience, who would take on such cases. He also claimed that their volunteers’ list had diminished by several percentage points over the last several years, and that the majority of the lost one were due to only economic reasons. More lawyers will not agree to take on such cases and will abandon the poor to unpracticed attorneys to defend their severe charges, the judge further warned, claiming that the problem is a result of poor monetary recompense. He offered that the pay for both out of court and in court hours should be doubled.
Taking on civil cases and preparing wills is much more profitable for these attorneys and, as a result, they prefer them to criminal cases involving poor defendants. The judge reminded the legislators that it wasn’t fair to ask the attorneys to continue to lose money while offering their services to the state. Because the large majority of the criminal cases in the state use appointed attorneys, some attorneys stand to lose a lot of money.
Many years back, fiscal difficulties required a reduction in the compensation for lawyers handling criminal defense representation of poor clients. The compensation for both in and out of court fees were cut in a very significant manner. The levels of pay have not changed much in two decades. One judge suggested a return to the rates, at least, as he supported his peer.
The judge reports that because too few lawyers will take the cases, his court is in crisis. The prior levels would bring back in a portion of the attorneys whom they have lost, and help them to retain the services of other ones which they would possibly lose going forward, if the pay rates were reset, he stated. They do like the system that is used currently, but argue that the lawyers are simply not paid well enough.
The several attorneys who are still representing indigents has plummeted drastically and could still crash further, from the 300 attorneys who are practicing in just one county. According to one county judge, approximately 90% of lawyers who have asked to be dropped from the volunteer list pointed to inadequate compensation as the main reason. One district has about 1/4 of the practicing attorneys who will consider doing indigent work. Since the time of that appraisal, the number of lawyers has gone down even further than the original volunteer list. No action was taken by the legislative committee.
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