State High Court Seeks Input On Indigent Representation

By Bill Dries |  Daily News

The Tennessee Supreme Court is taking public comments until June 25 on a proposed raise in the hourly rate paid to court-appointed attorneys who represent indigent defendants.

The comment period follows the Tennessee Legislature’s approval of a $9.7 million increase in indigent defense spending, which would be the first change in the state’s compensation rate in 20 years.

The proposed change would raise the hourly rate for attorneys appointed in noncapital cases to $50 an hour from $40 an hour currently.

The cap on the total compensation for an attorney in a particular case would also be increased.

The rates apply to attorneys appointed by a court to represent a defendant when a public defender cannot be appointed because a defender represents a co-defendant or has some other conflict.

Local public defenders provide most of the representation to indigent defendants.

Increasing pay rates for appointed counsel was recommended last year by the Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force.

More information on the proposed changes, including a red-lined version of the rule and instructions on how to comment, are available at tncourts.gov.

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