Court appointed attorneys are calling it quits

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Some court appointed attorneys are calling it quits after learning they will be getting a pay cut.

Under the recently passed House version of the state budget, the usual fee of $75 an hour for representing clients who can't afford a lawyer would be reduced down to $50 an hour.

Reports say the Bladen County Bar Association has removed all of its members from the state's appointed council program and several other counties have done the same.

That could mean defendants will have less-experienced attorneys representing them and criminal cases could get backlogged into the system.

Attorneys are also jumping ship in New Hanover County. Chief Public Defender Jennifer Harjo said several experienced attorneys who volunteered for the work in the past have now taken their names off the list.

Harjo said she lobbied for Indigent Defense Services only days before the House passed its budget plan. These proposed cuts will have a negative effect on the attorneys, the citizens and the entire justice system, according to Harjo.

Before the more than $11 million in cuts to court-appointed private counsel can take effect, the State Senate has to pass the budget.

The reduced rates will be discussed when the IDS Commission meets May 20.

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