20 October 2003

SW Virginia Law Blog points to a brochure about how much Virginia paid for indigent defense last year. Payments for court appointed counsel went up 32.1% from $43.7 million to $57.8 million. I suspect that much of this comes from certain repairs to the court appointed payment system (I now get paid for a felony when I deal with it in district court while previously I would have only gotten paid misdemeanor rates if I handled the felony in district court).

The sad thing is that the caps imposed by the Legislature still leave us as one of the lowest paying States.

Indigent representation by court appointed counsel jumped 17.4% in one year from 193,352 people to 227,058 people. Not sure what the cause of that is. The courts have actually been able to get $4.5 million in fees paid out (7.8%) back from clients who were convicted. I'd guess this is from people desperately trying to pay off their fines/costs so they might someday be able to get their licenses back (from my perspective, we seem to take your license if you sneeze the wrong way in Virginia).

Disturbing: If the number of people represented by court appointed counsel has risen 17.4% one can extrapolate that a similar jump has probably occured in numbers represented by public defenders. Yet we see little or no rise in funds to the public defender offices over the last five years. One might suspect that the offices are set up to save money and then not given increases in funding and/or manpower even if the workload rises.

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