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Introduced Version Senate Bill 726 History

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Senate Bill No. 726

(By Senator Bowman)

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[Introduced March 21, 2005; referred to the Committee

on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §29-21-22, relating to requiring the Supreme Court of Appeals to establish uniform procedures and criteria to be used by circuit judges in determining the circumstances under which the judges order repayment of the costs of representation provided under the Public Defender System.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §29-21-22, to read as follows:

ARTICLE 21. PUBLIC DEFENDER SERVICES.

§29-21-22. Supreme Court of Appeals to establish uniform procedures and criteria for repayment; findings.

(a) The Legislature finds:
(1) The cost of the West Virginia Public Defender Services to provide legal representation to indigent clients accused of crimes has increased from eight million five hundred thousand dollars in one thousand nine hundred ninety-one, to twenty-seven million dollars in fiscal year two thousand four.
(2) Through the provisions of section sixteen of this article the Legislature has created a mechanism by which the clients of public defender services may be required to repay a portion of the cost the state incurs in providing them legal representation.
(3) Due to the discretionary nature of the repayment system some circuits do not order any repayment, and among those circuits that do order repayment, there is significant variance in the amounts of repayment required.
(4) The variance creates inequities in that some defendants pay some portion of their public defense, while others under similar circumstances in another circuit do not pay for any part of their defense.
(5) Given the inconsistent imposition of repayment, the state general revenue fund receives on average less than four hundred thousand dollars a year, which is less than half a percent of the total cost for the services provided throughout the state.
(6) Given the rising costs of providing legal representation through public defender services and the inequities of the current repayment structure, a more uniform repayment mechanism is needed.
(b) The Supreme Court of Appeals shall by the first day of October, two thousand five establish uniform procedures and criteria to be used by circuit judges in determining the circumstances under which the judges shall order, under section sixteen of this article, repayment of the costs of representation provided under this article.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require the Supreme Court of Appeals to establish uniform procedures and criteria to be used by circuit judges in determining the circumstances under which the judges order repayment of the costs of representation provided under the Public Defender System.

This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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