rick freedman said...
This is the message from the JAC re funds for Court Appointed Counsel:
The Justice Administrative Commission has processed a request for early release of 4th quarter funds for the Court-Appointed Criminal Due Process and Dependency/Other Civil Due Process appropriation categories. The Governor’s Office has notified the JAC that these funds for both appropriation categories will be released on Monday, February 5th.
As of January 29, 2007, funds in the Court Appointed Criminal Due Process category were exhausted.
Currently there are adequate funds available in the Court Appointed Dependency/Other Civil appropriation category. The Chief Financial Officer’s staff has requested that JAC continue to send over payment processing data on a daily basis, so that when funds are available on Monday, they will be prepared to process this week’s payments as soon as possible. Payment requests submitted by the JAC to the CFO this week would likely either be returned to JAC in the form of a check to be mailed to vendors, or deposited in vendors’ accounts via the direct deposit process next week, many as early as Tuesday.
FACDL and FACDL-Miami will continue to lobby the appropriate officials, (state senators, state house reps, members of the criminal justice appropriations committee, governor's office, etc.) to try and resolve this funding problem.
We appreciate your support.
Rumpole says: This has got to be resolved. Nobody wants to incarcerate innocent people. If they run out of funds to pay for competent representation, that is just what is going to happen.
Here is our concern: there is plenty of money to pay for more officers, new courthouses, more judges, and politicians who run on "get tough on crime" platforms. But when it comes time to paying for the lawyers- and we mean prosecutors, PD's, and indigent defense, there is no money. In federal and state court, private lawyers are paid about 90 bucks an hour. That is a lot of money, until you pay rent for an office, 40 thousand for a competent secretary, plus medical, plus a year end bonus, plus all the other expenses necessary to run a private practice. Then the 90 an hour becomes a loss leader. Which is OK as well, so long as we didn't have to beg for it, fight to not have the bills cut, and then fill out form after form to get paid, only to have it kicked back because one form was signed in black ink instead of blue ink.
Let us be clear- we rarely accept court appointments. We do so only in cases that catch out eye, or in which a judge has specifically requested out help. But we have been in practice a while, and do not depend upon court appointments. But other lawyers do, and the problem is that there ability to effectively defend indigent clients is compromised when they have limited time to devote to their indigent clients.
The system is broke and needs to be fixed. As a purely altruistic exercise (something we are normally philosophically against) we will ponder this problem over the weekend and post a solution on Monday.