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Court rules on public defender fee imposition

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has decided that a state statute’s indigency hearing requirement doesn’t apply when a defendant has entered into a cash bail-bond agreement, meaning a trial court can use that bond money to pay court costs such as the imposed public defender fee.

A unanimous ruling came Friday in Lisa R. Wright v. State of Indiana, No. 57A03-1010-CR-570, affirming a ruling by the Noble Circuit Court.

Wright had pleaded guilty to Class B felony methamphetamine dealing and posted a cash bail-bond agreement pursuant to Indiana Code 35-33-8-3.2(a)(2), depositing 10 percent of the $10,000 bond. The agreement said the trial court could use that money to pay fines, fees, and costs in the event she failed to show up or was convicted. She requested and was appointed a public defender and ended up pleading guilty and receiving a six-year sentence. The court subsequently ordered that the escrow money from what she’d paid for bond be used to pay various costs, such as the $100 public defender fee.

On appeal, Wright argued the trial court didn’t explicitly find that she could pay the fee imposed and that it hadn’t held a hearing to determine whether she was actually indigent. The state argued that she ignored the fact that the public defender fee was paid from the $1,000 bond, per the agreement she’d entered.

The appellate panel looked at the state statutes, and determined the trial court didn’t err in how it used the money without a holding a hearing because Wright had entered into a contract through the agreement and that stood.

Though Wright cited a 2006 case from the intermediate appellate court, this panel found that state statute had been amended since to specifically allow for trial judges to do what happened in Wright’s case.

“A plain reading of Section 35-33-8-3.2(a)(2) as amended leads us to the conclusion that the absence of language requiring an indigency hearing means that when a bail bond agreement is executed, such a hearing is not required,” the court wrote.

“Moreover, to impose the hearing requirement of Section 33-37-2-3(a) where a defendant executed an agreement pursuant to Section 35-33-8-3.2(a)(2), would render the bail bond agreement meaningless. In addition, this Court has recognized that when a defendant posts a cash bail bond pursuant to Indiana Code Section 35-33-8-3.2, the trial court has authority to impose public defender costs.”

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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