Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Maine Commission wants to raise indigent defense fees

Court appointed criminal defense attorneys are scheduled to get a raise in Maine, but the start date and even the amount remain fuzzy because of state budget woes, reported the Kennebec Journal.

The funding shortage has raised concerns that there won't be enough qualified lawyers to represent indigent defendants, who are those who face jail time and can't afford a lawyer, so they're appointed one who's paid through a state program.

The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, an independent board charged with setting fees for that work, recently approved a $70 per hour fee to begin July 1 and another increase to $75 an hour a year later, reported the Journal.

Now, the 465 lawyers registered with the commission receive $50 per hour, a rate set in 1999. In contrast, the hourly rate for work as a federal public defender is $125 an hour.

A bill in the Legislature proposes to start a $70 an hour wage Oct. 1 and move it to $75 an hour on July 1, 2015.

The governor's budget proposes a $55 an hour rate -- a 10 percent raise -- in the 2014-2015 budget.

To read more: http://www.kjonline.com/news/lawyersfor-poormay-get-raise_2013-03-10.html

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