Scioto County public defenders are getting a raise, but not as big a bump as local judges had requested. Judges had requested that local lawyers who take on indigent defense cases see their fees raised to $75 per hour.
While the Scioto County Commissioners agreed area public defenders deserved a raise, they were unsure about the amount of reimbursement the county would see from the state and decided to be conservative with the raises.
Commissioner Scottie Powell said, “I don’t feel comfortable going straight to the top of where we could go. At the same time, I do appreciate and recognize the hard work that our public defenders do.”
Under the new pay rate, lawyers will receive $65 per hour for in-court services and $55 per hour for out-of-court services effective May 1. This represents a $5 per hour increase in the pay rate. This is the first raise for public defenders in Scioto County since 2016.
Commissioner Bryan Davis said, “Public defenders are becoming scarce. That’s not just a Scioto County problem, that’s a statewide problem. I think this is a good move.”
Davis said the county had hired an additional attorney for Children Services to help get kids into permanent placement faster and for the Special Victims Unit. He said those attorneys had come from the defense area. “It’s a Catch 22. It’s tough. It’s not just us. We’re hearing this all across the state.”
He said it was a delicate balance to compensate attorneys fairly while keeping in mind that the state could always cut reimbursement. “We need to take a measured approach.”
Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the pay raise.