Tuesday, March 10, 2009
A criminal defendant charged with malice murder was convicted and sentenced to death but his habeas petition led to an order for a new trial. New counsel were appointed by the then Director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council to handle the second trial. The lawyers were assured that they would be paid out of the Council's funds.
The lawyers submitted periodic bills, which were not paid. When the lawyers completed the representation, they submitted a bill for services to the public defender of slightly less than $69,000. The Council refused to pay them anything, claiming that payment was not under the statutory appointment scheme.
The Georgia Supreme Court rejected the contention and ordered that the lawyers be paid. The financial problems that the Council was experiencing did not justify non-payment. (Mike Frisch)