13 March 2009

Georgia Supreme Court:
You Will Pay for Death Defenders

You know you're in trouble when not a single judge or justice agrees with you.

A defendant had his death sentence overturned in 2005. In 2006, new "conflict" attorneys were found by a State agency, appointed by the judge and a whole new trial took place. Then, after the trial was over, the agency refused to pay the attorneys, claiming the $68,946.61 should be paid by the county. The judge disagreed, ordered the agency to pay, and - after the agency refused - held it in contempt.

Now the agency got its shot to convince the Supreme Court of Georgia. The agency argued that it shouldn't have to pay because the the charge came into being prior to the existence of the statute requiring it to pay. Every single Justice joins in a ruling which, in polite legalese, calls that argument balderdash. "The attorneys were appointed after the statute was in place, you promised to pay them, and it's a brand new trial - so you cannot disclaim the debt by claiming the date of the original trial is the relevant date. Pay up, you skinflints!"

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