Senate Bill No. 94
(By Senators Wooton, Anderson, Bowman, Dittmar, Grubb, Oliverio, Ross,
Schoonover, Wagner, Buckalew and Scott)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported January 18, 1996.]
A BILL to amend and reenact sections two, six, eight, nine, thirteen-a and
fifteen, article twenty-one, chapter twenty-nine of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, all relating
to public defender services generally; adding enhanced sentencing
proceedings, forfeiture proceedings and certain guardians as eligible
proceedings; excluding part-time employees from certain benefits unless
authorized and funded; allowing public defender organizations to file
periodic reports; removing the requirement that one public defender serve
two certain circuits; eliminating requirement that panel attorneys file
preference statement; limiting hourly rate for paralegal services;
removing allowance for travel expense reimbursements above certain limits
for attorneys appointed to cases outside the attorney's circuit; limiting
reimbursement for certain transcripts and court reporter expenses;
establishing an hourly rate for reimbursement for investigators;
designating an extraordinary writ as a separate case; and providing for
the correction of vouchers.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That sections two, six, eight, nine, thirteen-a and fifteen, article
twenty-one, chapter twenty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine
hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 21. PUBLIC DEFENDER SERVICES.
As used in this article, the following words and phrases are hereby
(1) "Eligible client": Any person who meets the requirements established
by this article to receive publicly funded legal representation in an eligible
proceeding as defined herein;
(2) "Eligible proceeding": Criminal charges which may result in
incarceration; juvenile proceedings; proceedings to revoke parole or probation
if the revocation may result in incarceration; contempts of court; child abuse
and neglect proceedings which may result in a termination of parental rights;
mental hygiene commitment proceedings; extradition proceedings; proceedings
brought in aid of an eligible proceeding, including, but not limited to,
proceedings to enhance sentences, forfeitures pursuant to article seven, chapter
sixty-a this code; and appeals from or post-conviction challenges to the final
judgment in an eligible proceeding. Legal representation provided pursuant to
the provisions of this article is limited to the court system of the state of
West Virginia, but does not include representation in municipal courts unless the
accused is at risk of incarceration;
(3) "Legal representation": The provision of any legal services or legal
assistance as counsel or guardian ad litem consistent with the purposes and
provisions of this article;
(4) "Private practice of law": The provision of legal representation by
a public defender or assistant public defender to a client who is not entitled
to receive legal representation under the provisions of this article, but does
not include, among other activities, teaching;
(5) "Public defender": The staff attorney employed on a full-time basis
by a public defender corporation who, in addition to providing direct
representation to eligible clients, has administrative responsibility for the
operation of the public defender corporation. The public defender may be a part-
time employee if the board of directors of the public defender corporation finds
efficient operation of the corporation does not require a full-time attorney and
the executive director approves such part-time employment. Part-time employment
does not include benefits such as retirement, health insurance or paid leave time
for illness or vacation unless the public defender corporation board so authorizes that benefit and funding is available from public defender services
for that benefit;
(6) "Assistant public defender": A staff attorney providing direct
representation to eligible clients whose salary and status as a full-time or
part-time employee are fixed by the board of directors of the public defender
(7) "Public defender corporation": A corporation created under section
eight of this article for the sole purpose of providing legal representation to
eligible clients; and
(8) "Public defender office": An office operated by a public defender
corporation to provide legal representation under the provisions of this article.
§29-21-6. Powers, duties and limitations.
(a) Consistent with the provisions of this article, the agency is
authorized to make grants to and contracts with public defender corporations and
with individuals, partnerships, firms, corporations and nonprofit organizations,
for the purpose of providing legal representation under this article, and may
make such other grants and contracts as are necessary to carry out the purposes
and provisions of this article.
(b) The agency is authorized to accept, and employ or dispose of in
furtherance of the purposes of this article, any money or property, real,
personal or mixed, tangible or intangible, received by gift, devise, bequest or
(c) The agency shall establish and the executive director or his designate
shall operate a criminal law research center as provided for in section seven of
this article. This center shall undertake directly, or by grant or contract, to
serve as a clearinghouse for information; to provide training and technical
assistance relating to the delivery of legal representation; and to engage in
research, except that broad general legal or policy research unrelated to direct
representation of eligible clients may not be undertaken.
(d) The agency shall establish and the executive director or his designate
shall operate an accounting and auditing division to require and monitor the compliance with this article by public defender corporations and other persons
or entities receiving funding or compensation from the agency. This division
shall review all plans and proposals for grants and contracts, and shall make a
recommendation of approval or disapproval to the executive director. The
division shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, reports concerning the
evaluation, inspection or monitoring of public defender corporations and other
grantees, contractors, persons or entities receiving financial assistance under
this article, and shall further carry out the agency's responsibilities for
records and reports as set forth in section eighteen of this article.
The accounting and auditing division shall require each public defender
annually periodically report on the billable and nonbillable time
of its professional employees, including time utilized in administration of the
respective offices, so as to compare such time to similar time expended in
nonpublic law offices for like activities.
The accounting and auditing division shall provide to the executive
director assistance in the fiscal administration of all of the agency's
divisions. Such assistance shall include, but not be limited to, budget
preparation and statistical analysis.
(e) The agency shall establish and the executive director or a person
designated by the executive director shall operate an appellate advocacy division
for the purpose of prosecuting litigation on behalf of eligible clients in the
supreme court of appeals. The executive director or a person designated by the
executive director shall be the director of the appellate advocacy division. The
appellate advocacy division shall represent eligible clients upon appointment by
the circuit courts, or by the supreme court of appeals. The division may,
however, refuse such appointments due to a conflict of interest or if the
executive director has determined the existing caseload cannot be increased
without jeopardizing the appellate division's ability to provide effective
representation. In order to effectively and efficiently utilize the resources
of the appellate division the executive director may restrict the provision of
appellate representation to certain types of cases.
The executive director is empowered to select and employ staff attorneys
to perform the duties prescribed by this subsection. The division shall maintain
vouchers and records for representation of eligible clients for record purposes
§29-21-8. Public defender corporations.
(a) In each judicial circuit of the state, there is hereby created a
"public defender corporation" of the circuit.
Provided, That one such public
defender corporation shall serve both the twenty-third and thirty-first judicial
circuits. The purpose of such these public defender corporations is to provide
legal representation in the respective circuits in accordance with the provisions
of this article.
(b) If the judge of a single judge circuit, the chief judge of a multijudge
circuit or a majority of the active members of the bar in the circuit determine
there is a need to activate the corporation, they shall certify that fact in
writing to the executive director. The executive director shall allocate funds
to those corporations so certifying in the order in which he or she deems most
efficient and cost effective.
(c) Public defender corporations may apply in writing to the executive
director for permission to merge to form multicircuit or regional public defender
corporations. Applications for mergers shall be subject to the review procedures
set forth in section eleven of this article.
§29-21-9. Panel attorneys.
(a) In each circuit of the state, the circuit court shall establish and
maintain regional and local panels of private attorneys-at-law who shall be
available to serve as counsel for eligible clients.
(b) An attorney-at-law may become a panel attorney and be enrolled on the
regional or local panel, or both, to serve as counsel for eligible clients, by
informing the court. A prospective panel attorney shall inform the court in
writing, on forms provided by the executive director, of a desire to accept
appointments generally, or of the specific types of cases in which he or she will
accept appointments. The attorney shall also indicate whether or not he or she will accept appointments in adjoining circuits and, if so, in which circuits.
An agreement to accept cases generally or certain types of cases particularly
shall not prevent a panel attorney from declining an appointment in a specific
(c) (b) In all cases where an attorney-at-law is required to be appointed
for an eligible client, the appointment shall be made by the circuit judge. In
circuits where a public defender office is in operation, the judge shall appoint
the pubic defender office unless such appointment is not appropriate due to a
conflict of interest or unless the public defender corporation board of directors
or the public defender, with the approval of the board, has notified the court
that the existing caseload cannot be increased without jeopardizing the ability
of defenders to provide effective representation.
If the public defender office is not available for appointment, the court
shall appoint one or more panel attorneys from the local panel. If there is no
local panel attorney available, the judge shall appoint one or more panel
attorneys from the regional panel. If there is no regional panel attorney
available, the judge may appoint a public defender office from an adjoining
circuit if such public defender office agrees to the appointment.
In circuits where no public defender office is in operation, the judge
shall first refer to the local panel and then to the regional panel in making
appointments, and if an appointment cannot be made from the panel attorneys, the
judge may appoint the public defender office of an adjoining circuit if the
office agrees to the appointment. In any circuit, when there is no public
defender, or assistant public defender, local panel attorney or regional panel
attorney available, the judge may appoint one or more qualified private attorneys
to provide representation, and such private attorney or attorneys shall be
treated as panel attorneys for that specific case. In any given case, the
appointing judge may alter the order in which attorneys are appointed if the case
requires particular knowledge or experience on the part of the attorney to be
§29-21-13a. Compensation and expenses for panel attorneys.
(a) All panel attorneys shall maintain detailed and accurate records of the
time expended and expenses incurred on behalf of eligible clients, and upon
completion of each case, exclusive of appeal, shall submit to the appointing
court a voucher for services. Claims for fees and expense reimbursements shall
be submitted to the appointing court on forms approved by the executive director.
Claims submitted more than two years after the last date of service shall be
The appointing court shall review the voucher to determine if the time and
expense claims are reasonable, necessary and valid, and shall forward the voucher
to the agency with an order approving payment of the claimed amount or of such
lesser sum the court considers appropriate. Notwithstanding any other provision
of this section, public defender services may pay by direct bill, prior to the
completion of the case, litigation expenses incurred by attorneys under this
Provided, That A panel attorney may be compensated for services rendered
and reimbursed for expenses incurred prior to the completion of the case where:
(1) More than six months have expired since the commencement of the panel
attorney's representation in the case; and (2) no prior payment of attorney fees
has been made to the panel attorney by public defender services during the case.
Provided, however, That The amounts of any fees or expenses paid to the panel
attorney on such an interim basis, when combined with any such amounts paid to
the panel attorney at the conclusion of the case, shall not exceed the
limitations on fees and expenses imposed by this section.
(b) In each case in which a panel attorney provides legal representation
under this article, and in each appeal after conviction in circuit court, the
panel attorney shall be compensated at the following rates for actual and
necessary time expended for services performed and expenses incurred subsequent
to the effective date of this article:
(1) For attorney's work performed out of court, compensation shall be at
the rate of forty-five dollars per hour. Paralegal's compensation shall be at
the rate of twenty dollars per hour. Out-of-court work includes, but is not limited to, travel, interviews of clients or witnesses, preparation of pleadings
and prehearing or pretrial research.
(2) For attorney's work performed in court, compensation shall be at the
rate of sixty-five dollars per hour. No paralegal's compensation may be allowed
for in-court work. In-court work includes, but is not limited to, all time spent
awaiting hearing or trial if the presence of the attorney is required.
(3) The maximum amount of compensation for out-of-court and in-court work
under this subsection is as follows: For proceedings of any kind involving
felonies for which a penalty of life imprisonment may be imposed, such amount as
the court may approve; for all other eligible proceedings, three thousand
(c) Actual and necessary expenses incurred in providing legal
representation, including, but not limited to, expenses for travel, transcripts,
salaried or contracted investigative services and expert witnesses shall be
reimbursed to a maximum of fifteen hundred dollars unless the court, for good
cause shown, gives advance approval to incur expenses for a larger sum.
Provided, That when an attorney is appointed to a case outside of the circuit
where his or her principal office is located, travel expenses incurred for travel
as the result of providing legal representation in the case shall be reimbursed
not withstanding the fifteen hundred dollar limit provided by this subsection:
Provided, however That notwithstanding any other provision of this article, these
travel expenses incurred by an attorney appointed to a case outside of his or her
circuit as aforesaid shall be reimbursed by public defender services prior to the
completion of the case upon the request of the panel attorney on such forms
approved by the executive director.Expense vouchers shall specifically set forth the nature, amount and
purpose of expenses incurred and shall provide such receipts, invoices or other
documentation required by the executive director and the state auditor.
(1) Expenses for production of transcripts requested by defense counsel,
exclusive of transcripts for preliminary hearings, magistrate court trials, appeals or habeas corpus proceedings, are limited to the cost per original page
set forth in section four, article seven, chapter fifty-one of this code. The
costs of copies of transcripts may not be reimbursed unless those copies are made
by the attorney, in which case costs are limited to ten cents per page.
Transcription of tapes electronically recorded during preliminary hearings or
magistrate court trials shall be reimbursed at the rate of fifty cents per page.
No hourly court reporters' fees or fees for time expended, either at the
proceeding or traveling to or from the proceeding may be paid, except
reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses as is permitted by the rules of
the travel management office of the department of administration.
(2) The rules of the travel management office of the department of
administration govern reimbursement of travel expenses for all service providers,
including attorneys, court reporters, expert witnesses, investigators and others.
(3) Compensation for work performed by an investigator shall be at a rate
of thirty dollars per hour.
(d) For purposes of compensation under this section, an appeal or
extraordinary writ to the supreme court of appeals from a final order of the
circuit court shall be considered a separate case.
(e) Vouchers submitted under this section shall specifically set forth the
nature of the service rendered, the stage of proceeding or type of hearing
involved, the date and place the service was rendered and the amount of time
expended in each instance. All time claimed on the vouchers shall be itemized
to the nearest tenth of an hour. If the charge against the eligible client for
which services were rendered is one of several charges involving multiple
warrants or indictments, the voucher shall indicate such fact and sufficiently
identify the several charges so as to enable the court to avoid a duplication of
compensation for services rendered.
The voucher shall indicate whether the
services were rendered by a local panel attorney, a regional panel attorney, or
such other private attorney as may have been appointed. The executive director
shall refuse to requisition payment for any voucher which is not in conformity
with the recordkeeping, compensation or other provisions of this article and in such circumstance shall return the voucher to the court or to the service
provider for further review or correction.
§29-21-15. Public defender corporations -- Board of directors.
(a) The governing body of each public defender corporation shall be a board
of directors consisting of persons who are residents of the area to be served by
the public defender corporation.
(1) In multi-county circuits, and in the case of multicircuit or regional
corporations, the county commission of each county within the area served shall
appoint a director, who shall not be an attorney-at-law. The president of each
county bar association within the area served shall appoint a director, who shall
be an attorney-at-law: Provided, That in a county where there is not an
organized and active bar association, the circuit court shall convene a meeting
of the members of the bar of the court resident within the county and such
members of the bar shall elect one of their number as a director. The governor
shall appoint one director, who shall serve as chairman, who may be an attorney-
at-law, unless such appointment would result in there being an even number of
directors, in which event the governor shall appoint two directors, one of whom
may be an attorney-at-law.
(2) In single-county circuits, the manner of selecting directors shall be
the same as the described in subdivision (1) of this subsection, except that the
county commission shall appoint two directors rather than one, and the bar shall
appoint two directors rather than one.
(b) The board of directors shall have at least four meetings a year.
Timely and effective prior public notice of all meetings shall be given pursuant
to section one, article nine-a, chapter six of this code, and all meetings shall
be public except for those concerned with matters properly discussed in executive
(c) The board of directors shall establish and enforce broad policies
governing the operation of the public defender corporation but shall not
interfere with any attorney's professional responsibilities to clients. The
duties of the board of directors shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) Appointment of the public defender and any assistant public defenders
as may be necessary to enable the public defender corporation to provide legal
representation to eligible clients; and
(2) Approval of the public defender corporation's budget and the fixing of
professional and clerical salaries; and
Renewal of the employment contract of the public defender on an annual
basis except where such renewal is denied for cause: Provided, That the board
of directors shall have the power at any time to remove the public defender
Removal of any employee for misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance.
(d) To the extent that the provisions of chapter thirty-one of this code
regarding nonprofit corporations are not inconsistent with this article, the
provisions of said chapter shall be applicable to the board of directors of the
public defender corporation.
(e) While serving on the board of directors, no member may receive
compensation from the public defender corporation, but a member may receive
payment for normal travel and other out-of-pocket expenses required for
fulfillment of the obligations of membership and may accept appointment to
represent indigents so long as he or she does not discuss a particular case with
any defender. Directors may not serve as co-counsel in any matter.
(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to make technical changes to the law
governing the administration of the public defender program. The bill adds
enhanced sentencing proceedings, forfeiture proceedings and guardians as eligible
proceedings. The bill excludes part-time employees from certain benefits.
The bill streamlines the reporting and voucher submission process, and
establishes hourly rates of reimbursement for paralegal and investigator
services. The bill also limits expense reimbursement for travel, transcripts and
court reporter services. Finally, it clarifies that public defender corporation
board members may accept appointed cases so long as no conflict exists with a
(Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present
law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.)