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February 12, 2004

Co-pays by Indigent Defendents Struck Down In Minnesota

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:59 pm

According to reports at Law.com and WCCO.com, “The Minnesota Supreme Court on Thursday struck down mandatory fees the Legislature imposed last year on criminal defendants who use public defenders.” 

 

WCCO tv in Minneapolis reports:


In a unanimous ruling, the seven-justice court said the fees violate the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment protections.

The fees are among the budget-balancing moves approved by the Legislature last spring and are intended to raise about $10 million over the next two years to help run the public defender program. Depending on the crime, defendants are charged between $50 and $200 a case.

A similar confrontation may soon arise in Massachusetts. Find more on the nationwide crisis over funding criminal representation of the poor at the NYSDA website.

28 Comments

  1. Dear David: Thank you for bringing this to my attention. As I think you know, I am in the thick of a fight in Massachusetts where attorneys who do 6th Amendment work have not received any adjustment to compensation in 20 years, and are increasingly being forced to leave the work they love – that of defending citizens against the government when the citizen would not, on their own, be able to afford to secure representation. The 6th amendment work here includes not just criminal work, but protecting children (against abuse and neglect, or being given inappropriate psychiatric medications), protecting families from interference by the state (as not all allegations of abuse or neglect do, in fact, have a factual basis) or permanent destruction, and other similar work, such as involuntary commitment defense. Our Massachusetts executive wants to balance its budget “on the backs of the poor” through fees and the like, rather then confront the electorate with its responsibility to pay for services with taxes, and is trying to force funding for 6th amendment work to come from fees assessed on the poor, which I consider to be unworkable and unconstitutional as proposed here. Deborah Sirotkin Butler, Esq. AmberPaw@aol.com

    Comment by Deborah Sirotkin Butler, Esq. — February 14, 2004 @ 2:16 pm

  2. Dear David: Thank you for bringing this to my attention. As I think you know, I am in the thick of a fight in Massachusetts where attorneys who do 6th Amendment work have not received any adjustment to compensation in 20 years, and are increasingly being forced to leave the work they love – that of defending citizens against the government when the citizen would not, on their own, be able to afford to secure representation. The 6th amendment work here includes not just criminal work, but protecting children (against abuse and neglect, or being given inappropriate psychiatric medications), protecting families from interference by the state (as not all allegations of abuse or neglect do, in fact, have a factual basis) or permanent destruction, and other similar work, such as involuntary commitment defense. Our Massachusetts executive wants to balance its budget “on the backs of the poor” through fees and the like, rather then confront the electorate with its responsibility to pay for services with taxes, and is trying to force funding for 6th amendment work to come from fees assessed on the poor, which I consider to be unworkable and unconstitutional as proposed here. Deborah Sirotkin Butler, Esq. AmberPaw@aol.com

    Comment by Deborah Sirotkin Butler, Esq. — February 14, 2004 @ 2:16 pm

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