Scioto County plans crackdown on late-billing lawyers
Attorneys who are late sending in their bills for indigent defense are costing Scioto County money and the county commissioners say they are ready to lay down the law on the matter.
Commissioner Bryan Davis says the commissioners are doing research right now to put together a resolution to let the late-billers know they won’t get paid unless they submit their bills in a timely fashion.
When a public defender is appointed for a defendant who can’t afford a lawyer, the county pays the legal bills and is then reimbursed for some of that money by the state.
For example, Commissioner Mike Crabtree revealed that Scioto County spent close to $47,000 on indigent defense in September and was reimbursed for about 70% of that. If attorneys don’t submit the bills on time, sometimes the state refuses to pay the reimbursement.
That can start to add up according to Davis. He didn’t name any names but said that some attorneys are much slower to get the bills in than others and it’s time to take charge of the situation. “To try to prevent the $1,000 here, the $1200 there that is disallowed. We need to make sure we get all of that. You times that by twelve in a year and you’re looking at upwards of $15,000 to $18,000 dollars.” He had one clear message for indigent defense attorneys.
“Look if you don’t turn it in on time, you’re not going to get paid.”
Ohio public defenders recently passed a resolution calling for increased pay for appointed counsel, asking that the minimum fee be raised to $75 per hour.