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. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

  2. The Department of Education still has over $100 million of ITT Education Services money in the form of $100+ million Letters of Credit. That money was supposed to be used by The DOE to help students. The DOE did nothing to help students. The DOE essentially stole the money from ITT Tech and still has the money. The trustee should be going after the DOE to get the money back for people who are owed that money, including shareholders.

  3. Do you know who the sponsor of the last-minute amendment was?

  4. Law firms of over 50 don't deliver good value, thats what this survey really tells you. Anybody that has seen what they bill for compared to what they deliver knows that already, however.

  5. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

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