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Rep. Edwards 
Member since Jan 21, 2011


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Re: “Lawyers for indigents

Citizen 1: Your question is excellent. Until the ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court in May of 2010, it is my understanding that there was never an issue regarding the expenses of "retained" counsel being paid by the Arkansas Public Defenders Commission. Since this ruling, according to the Commission, other "retained" counsel have come forward to ask that the expenses of their cases be paid by the Commission. My concern is that if public dollars are to be obligated, there should be oversight over how these public funds are spent. Citizens that I talk to expect this in other areas involving government spending, and I believe the same standards should apply here. Based upon the current court ruling, in the long run, the Commission would have no option but to pay "retained" expenses without having control of how public dollars are spent. There is no doubt in my mind that when a judge "appoints" counsel that there is a level of accountabilty to the public. The same holds true with those lawyers employed by the Commission or those contracted by the Commission. I just want to insure that there is oversight and accountability on how public funds are spent for "retained counsel" and to do so in a way that protects the 6th Amendment rights of anyone accused of a crime. Thank you for your question and have a good evening.

Posted by Rep. Edwards on 01/21/2011 at 9:19 PM

Re: “Lawyers for indigents

Edit to previous post: "Retained attorney" fees may not be paid unless conditions set by the Commission are met. So under my bill, both fees and expenses could be paid to counsel that was "retained" if such counsel was qualifed by standards set by the Arkansas Public Defenders Commission. JCE

Posted by Rep. Edwards on 01/21/2011 at 6:57 PM

Re: “Lawyers for indigents

Bella is correct. The Supreme Court ruling dealt with expenses in the case of Muhammand. My bill wants to make very clear that: (1) All expenses for "appointed counsel" must be paid by the Arkansas Public Defenders Commission; (2) That "retained attorney" fees may not be paid; and (3) That expenses for "retained" counsel MAY be paid if conditions set by the Commission are met. This legislation, if passed, would not apply to expenses or fees associated with the Muhammand case.
Representative John Charles Edwards

Posted by Rep. Edwards on 01/21/2011 at 6:40 PM

 

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