Public Defender Services to no longer cut court-appointed attorneys fees

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 21, 2016

CHARLESTON – Public Defender Services rescinded its emergency guidelines that were set to go into effect this week.

Dana Eddy, the Executive Director of Public Defender Services, said the budget office was able to scrape together enough money to be able to withdraw the emergency guidelines.

“I give full credit to the budget office,” Eddy said. “They were able to scrape together $15.7 million, which made it possible to remove the emergency guidelines.”

Eddy said even if the emergency guidelines had gone into effect, they would’ve only lasted until the next fiscal year.

Anthony Majestro of Powell & Majestro sent notice on Dec. 23 on behalf of attorneys and law firms that take court-appointed cases. He will file a petition for a writ of mandamus with the West Virginia Supreme Court against the state’s Public Defender Services.

The petition will ask the court to stop the guidelines from taking effect Jan. 18 and also will argue that the current rate of pay is unconstitutionally low. The amount panel attorneys are paid for their time has not been raised since the 1990s.

In the Dec. 23 notice, Majestro wrote that PDS fails to adequately and timely compensate panel attorneys for their time and expenses.

Under the emergency guidelines, attorneys would no longer be reimbursed for mileage and would be compensated $20 per hour for travel time.

Attorneys currently receive $45 per hour for travel time and 57 cents per mile in mileage reimbursement.

Majestro still plans to file the petition.

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