|Date Requested:March 15, 2005
Time Requested:02:10 PM
| FUND(S) |
Sources of Revenue
Legislation creates:Neither Program nor Fund
Effect this measure will have on costs and revenues of state government.
In Circuits with Public Defender offices, Public Defenders currently do at least two thirds (and usually more) of the indigent defense work. The average cost of cases represented by Public Defenders is less than the average cost of cases wherein private counsel are appointed.
Currently the Director of Public Defender Services has no authority to activate a Public Defender office in Circuits which do not have offices. This bill creates a Board which would approve activation in areas wherein costs savings can be realized.
Further savings may also be realized by using full-time offices which take cases conflicted out of the main Public Defender offices. Permanent part-time Public Defenders are also authorized.
|Effect of Proposal||Fiscal Year|
|1. Estmated Total Cost||0||0||-1,214,381|
|Repairs and Alterations||0||0||0|
|2. Estimated Total Revenues||0||0||-1,214,381|
3. Explanation of above estimates (including long-range effect):
Estimates above are based on Public Defender offices taking at least two thirds of the work currently being performed by Public Defenders. Of the current Public Defender offices operating, all but two take substantially more than two thirds of the cases and nine take three quarters or more. The two exceptions have had difficulty retaining staff and at full staff levels would be well within the predicted range.
Two thirds is a very safe estimate of ongoing case load shift to Public Defender offices and is achieveable under virtually any scenario. However, given the rate of increase in costs for both Public Defender offices and private counsel, some total cost increase may be expected for both systems at some point. However, Public Defender offices will be cheaper for at least the next several years.
(NOTE: the private counsel rate which is the basis for comparison is now 15 years old and is the lowest amount charged by any lawyer in West Virginia according to the latest survey by the State Bar. Only 1.4% of private attorneys charge this rate. The basis for comparison here is therefore an artifically low basis.)