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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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