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Should Court-Appointed Lawyers Earn More Than Public Defenders?

Today, Bob Ambrogi posts about this week's Coast to Coast Podcast, where he and blogger Craig Williams will discuss low salaries for public defenders.  Bob notes that in Missouri, public defenders earn a starting salary of $37,800 and are expected to handle close to 300 cases a year.

All of this stands in striking contrast to these North Carolina, court-appointed attorneys who were removed from the appointment list and reported to the bar for allegedly overbilling for court-appointed criminal defense work.  According to this account, one of the accused lawyers earned around $500,000 from 2002-2004, while the other made $700,000 for the same period. At the same time, both lawyers were regarded as hard-working and the average amount billed for a felony case by one lawyer was calculated as around $1700 (though the article says that amount is double the average for the community).

Should the money currently spent on court appointments be funneled towards public defenders' offices?  Are these kinds of salaries more comparable than they appear, given that court-appointed lawyers may have overhead?  And why do lawyers choose to work for public defenders' offices when there's more money to be had, in some instances, going the court-appointed route?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 31, 2006 at 03:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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