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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. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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