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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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