August 29, 2004

Oh, so that's why they're called "indigent"

My counterpart in Durham County, NC has taken a unusual position for a PD when it comes to advocating for the clients, at least when it comes to their ability to pay their bills: Lock 'em up! When defendants don't pay court-ordered PD reimbursement, Bob Brown advocates tough love:

"(T)he money 'would start coming out of nowhere' if judges threatened people with an immediate pay-up-or-go-to-jail situation. 'I think we would see the dollar bills rolling out.'"

Brown also professed dismay at the whole Gideon-inspired "if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at public expense" racket:

""I think many people actually believe this is a free service.They never see anybody else have to pay. They don't think they have to pay either."

Luckily, the court clerk and judges were on hand to explain that "indigent" can mean, among other things, not having a lot of money.

(So you know, my judges order all but the most destitute (or long-term incarcerated) clients to pay $75 for a misdemeanor case, $500 for a felony case. The county collects about $75,000 in a good year, which goes into the general fund, not into my budget, but is equivalent to a year's salary and fringe for one deputy PD.)

1 Comment:

Girl Ipsa said...

Do you suppose that Brown is familiar with the concept of "Debtors Prison"? Modernly, that may receive more public support than in the past. Maybe we need a constitutional amendment?

Thanks for an interesting Blawg!