Bidding for public defense work

September 1, 2011
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The Tennessee Supreme Court is considering whether to enter into fixed-fee contracts with attorneys in particular types of cases to help reduce costs. The Tennessean recently reported on the proposed changes to indigent defense.

There’s an amendment out there that would allow the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts to seek bids and award contracts for contempt proceedings in nonpayment of child support cases and hearings on whether to involuntary commit someone to a mental-health institution.

The proposal is an attempt to save money. Like a lot of states, more people need appointed counsel and states are looking at ways to cut costs where they can.

Critics argue that using fixed or flat fees for cases would encourage attorneys to put in as little work as possible.  

Wisconsin has a system in place where the public defense of misdemeanors is covered by flat rates. That state’s public defender office recently sent out request for proposals this year for flat rate contracting, continuing the contracts through 2013. Depending on what county lawyers practice in, they could get anywhere from $235 to $413 a case.

According to the Indiana Public Defender Commission’s Standards for Indigent Defense Services in Non-Capital Cases, last amended Dec. 10, 2008, counsel appointed on a case-by-case basis “shall be compensated for time actually expended at the hourly rate of not less than $60.00.”

What do you think about using flat fees for public defense?

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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