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Tag Archives: Indigent Defense

The high price of saving money (access required)

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There’s an old adage that free legal advice can wind up being very expensive in the long run. Some attorneys fear that a new law designed to reduce the amount of money the state spends to provide legal counsel for poor defendants may prove the truth of that. As part of the new state budget, the North Carolina legislature reclassified some misdemeanors, including driving with no operator’s license (NOL) and driving while a license is revoked (DWLR), and reduced the penalties for low-level misdemeanors so that defendants with three or fewer prior convictions will no longer face jail sentences. With incarceration no longer possible for these defendants, the state won’t be obligated to appoint attorneys to those who can’t afford them.

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NC’s indigent defense program was model for the South (access required)

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The guarantee that all Americans accused of a crime have a right to assistance of counsel is decades old, but in the beginning that promise didn’t always live up to the practice. There were no common standards to ensure that every indigent defendant received an attorney with enough training—and time—to provide competent representation. Rates of compensation for the attorneys varied as well.

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Indigent Defense Services moves toward flat-rate payment plan for attorneys  (access required)

North Carolina’s Indigent Defense Services is changing the way it does business with court-appointed attorneys. Since IDS’s founding in 2001, it has appointed attorneys to represent poor defendants on a case-by-case basis and paid case-specific fees for the work. But soon, attorneys throughout the state will have to submit proposals to IDS to prove that they are qualified to handle court-appointed work and then enter into flat-rate monthly contracts. The General Assembly ordered the switch from fees to contracts in a special provision that was tucked inside July’s budget bill. Danielle M. Carman, assistant director and general counsel for Durham-based IDS, said she learned about the proposal for a contract-based system shortly before it was enacted.

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