The following is courtesy of the JAA Broward Blog. We do not know any of the individuals involved in this matter. Warning: for practitioners of criminal law, the following may be disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.
Dramatis Personae: Judge Matthew Destry, Broward County; Ira Still, Esq, defense attorney; Rossaine Baker, client; JAC and the Broward State Attorneys Office-bureaucracies extraordinaire.
Background: Rossaine Baker was by all appearances a client in need. Sitting in jail for five months, charged with interrelated life felonies in two separate cases, her case was going no where fast and her future was bleak. Enter attorney Ira Still who was appointed to represent Ms. Baker. The title of the post links to the JAA blog's transcript of the fee hearing in which Mr. Still lays out the remarkable job he did. Some highlights: he took over the case and prepared for trial in less than a year which included depositions of over 80 witnesses. To do this he basically shut his office down regarding working on other cases. In the first case, Rossaine Baker was acquitted of armed burglary and aggravated battery after a four day trial.
In the second case the prosecution charged Rossaine Baker with attempted murder and armed kidnapping, the theory of the case being that Rossaine Baker tried to have the victim in the first case killed so as to avoid prosecution. Central to the theory of the first case was the prosecution's William's rule motion to introduce the facts of the second case. Motion denied after the defense filed a 20 page memorandum.
After the acquittal in the first case. Mr. Still obtained bond for his client in the second case. Then, based on how apparently flimsily the evidence was in the first case, Mr. Still attempted to save the State of Florida money by trying over and over to convince a series of prosecutors to not try the second case which was a sure acquittal. But lets remember this is Broward where Mr. Satz lives by the credo "try em all, let the jury sort it out."
The second case proceeded to trial but not before the witness tampering charge was dismissed by defense motion based on double jeopardy because of the acquittal in the first case. The second case also apparently involved the use of cell phone experts to show that the prosecution's allegations about the defendant making phone calls which would show her guilt were completely false. To make a long story short, the Defendant was acquitted in the second case.
After a spectacular job, Mr. Still submitted a bill for $95,872.50 based on billing at $75.00. That's 1,278.3 hours for those of you scoring at home. After auditing his bill, JAC did not find anything objectionable as to the hours billed or the form of the bill. But they did not want to pay.
Judge Destry remarked that "the State of Florida is not made of money" and then issued the following ruling:
A) Granted the attorneys fees request in full.
B) Cut the bill in half.
C) Cut the bill to the statutory cap of $2,500 per case.
D) Cut the bill to $20,000.00 for both cases.
Go to the comments section for the answer.
Click on the title of the post and read the transcript of the hearing. It's well worth a read.
See You In Court.