« Courts - Three interesting Illinois decisions yesterday | Main | Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court upskirting decision "allows child exploitation case against Lafayette pastor to proceed" »

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ind. Courts - Costs of death penalty case in Harrison County

Ross Schulz has a long story in the March 19th Corydon Democrat on the prospective costs of the Austin Scott death penalty case. Some quotes:

Harrison County Superior Court Judge Roger D. Davis requested $300,000 from the county Monday night at the Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting. The money is related to the Austin Scott death-penalty case.

The commissioners unanimously passed the request, specifically for public defender fees, on to the county council out of riverboat gaming funds.

Commissioner Kenny Saulman said he understood the county was going to have to give some money to support the trial. The council will hear the request Monday night.

The funds will be needed for attorneys' fees, mitigation experts, psychologists and/or psychiatrists, experts, investigators and miscellaneous expenses.

Judge Davis said the requirements and obligations related to the death penalty are immense.

"The most serious thing the government can do to interfere with your life is to take it," Davis said of the death penalty.

Davis said the requirements expanded after the moratorium on death penalties ended in 1976 and haven't really stopped.

Public defenders are only allowed to do a certain amount of work, so the case load related to the death-penalty case or others will have to be shared with other attorneys, per state law. The law also specifies how much those attorneys are to be paid.

Davis said the funding will be a one-time expense and, when the case is over, it'll be done.

"It's not for me to say; that's the prosecutor's call ... " he said of pursuing the death penalty. "I'll do my best to ensure we don't do things twice." * * *

Historically, the average cost of a death-penalty case to a county in Indiana is substantially higher than a case in which defendants face life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to a 2010 report from the Legislative Services Agency in Indianapolis, of the three possible sentencing options for murder (death, life without parole, determine sentencing of between 45 and 65 years), the death penalty is generally the most expensive for trial courts to conduct because two attorneys are required to represent the accused.

The average capital case resulting in a death sentence costs $449,887, while the average cost of a case in which a life-without-parole sentence was sought and achieved was only $42,658. Since Scott and Schuler [Kevin Schuler, who is represented by a private attorney] will be tried separately, the cost to Harrison County taxpayers could approach or surpass $1 million.

The ILB had a useful post Oct. 28, 2013, headed "Death penalty and high-profile murder monetary costs and other issues as illustrated by the David Camm trial." (Camm, BTW, was not a death penalty case.) See also this Jan. 17, 2012 post headed "Death penalty a costly choice."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 21, 2014 09:31 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts