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Friday, July 06, 2012

Ind. Courts - Delaware County public defender system

Larry Riley, an English prof at Ball State, wrote a column for the Muncie Star-Press about Delaware County government, including:

A week ago, I wrote about flack the local Public Defender Board was getting from its state counterpart, an Indiana commission that reimburses counties a portion of public defense costs provided certain state standards are met.

For all of 2011, Delaware County was reimbursed $408,000, or 40 percent of the million-dollar cost of public defenders and staff.

Delaware County was out of compliance last year on several counts, including not paying the chief public defender, Jack Quirk, enough in salary (the state wants his salary doubled).

Later last week, another issue facing the county got spelled out in a detailed letter from the state commission’s staff counsel.

Four public defenders this year already exceed the caseload limit. Caseload limits were established decades ago, and are outdated, but still used.

Each type of case — A, B, C, and D felonies — are given weights, as are appeals and juvenile cases, and when all weights each quarter for any given public defender add up to one full-time equivalency, that’s all they can handle.

Four pubic defenders exceeded their workload in the first quarter of 2012, and one actually had been over for the last quarter of 2011. That was Ron McShurley, who handles juvenile cases at the Youth Opportunity Center and files lots of appeals. (Unfit parents who lose custody of their children always want to appeal.)

Hence, all reimbursements have been “suspended until Delaware County come into compliance.”

The state told local officials that once “non-compliance has been cured,” a local official is welcome to attend the next quarterly meeting of the state commission and “request all monies previously held be disbursed to the county.”

The commission will meet in September and December.

Meanwhile, all reimbursement we were promised when County Commissioners hastily established the local public defender board and took oversight of public defenders from local judges is in limbo — and, one might surmise, jeopardy.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 6, 2012 07:04 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts