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Additional public defender fees without hearing affirmed

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A man who appealed a court order that he pay fees in excess of the statutory public defender fee capped at $100 lost his appeal, though one judge said the trial court must hold a hearing on the defendant’s ability to pay.

Michael B. Eliseo pleaded guilty to Class D felony receiving stolen property and was sentenced to three years in prison with nine months executed. In addition to the public defender fee of $100, Wells Circuit Judge Kenton Kiracofe ordered Eliseo to pay a supplemental public defender service fee of $300 and $166 in court costs.

In Michael B. Eliseo v. State of Indiana, 90A04-1307-CR-370 Judge Melissa May wrote that even though no hearing was conducted nor findings issued by the trial court, the court did not abuse its discretion since additional fees may be collected under I.C. 33-40-3-6 or I.C. 33-37-2-3.

“The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it did not conduct a hearing on Eliseo’s ability to pay fees because he was not required to pay until after he was released from incarceration,” May wrote. “Also, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered him to pay a $300.00 public defender fee because the amount was within the statutory limit.”

Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik concurred with May’s opinion, and Judge Patricia Riley concurred in result but wrote separately of the need for the trial court to conduct a hearing.

“(C)ontingent upon the trial court conducting a hearing when the fees are due and making a specific finding of Eliseo’s ability to pay, I find no abuse of discretion in its imposition of public defender fees in the amount of $300 and court costs in the amount of $166,” Riley wrote.

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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