Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Indigent defense under scrutiny in Tennessee

Tennessee has not changed the rate of pay for court appointed lawyers — $40 for each hour of preparation and $50 per hour in court — in more than 20 years. State law caps those fees in most cases, yet the top of the pay range is $5,000, reported the Tennessean.
Defense lawyers from around Tennessee on Friday painted a dismal picture of the state's system of providing attorneys for the poor, saying it fails to provide sufficient legal representation to everyone in need.
They spoke to judges, lawyers and lawmakers who sit on the Tennessee Supreme Court-appointed Indigent Representation Task Force. The task force is on a listening tour around the state to hear ideas how to change the $36 million system designated to help poor people involved in the criminal and civil legal systems.
Recently at Nashville School of Law, the task force heard lawyers say they can barely make ends meet trying to help the poor and public defenders raise an alarm their offices are overworked.
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