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Introduced Version House Bill 4022 History

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hb4022 intr
H. B. 4022


(By Mr. Speaker, (Mr. Thompson) and Delegate Armstead)
[By Request of the Executive]
[Introduced January 10, 2008; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary then Finance.]



A BILL to repeal §29-21-10, §29-21-11 and §29-21-12 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §29-21-3b; and to amend and reenact §29-21-6, §29-21-8, §29-21-9, §29-21-13 and §29-21-13a of said code, all relating to Public Defender Services generally; creating the Indigent Defense Commission; specifying members and their terms; specifying certain powers and duties of the Indigent Defense Commission; requiring public defender corporations to submit monthly financial statements and reports; providing requirements for the creation, activation and merger of public defender corporations; providing for the order of appointment of panel attorneys; establishing requirements for funding applications; requiring corporations to submit proposed budgets; authorizing amended funding contracts; providing for payment of fees to panel attorneys; and authorizing executive director to establish guidelines for submission of claims and vouchers.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §29-21-10, §29-21-11 and §29-21-12 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be repealed; that said code be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §29-21-3b; and that §29-21-6, §29-21-8, §29-21-9, §29-21-13 and §29-21-13a of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 21. PUBLIC DEFENDER SERVICES.
§29-21-3b. Indigent Defense Commission.

(a) There is hereby established the Indigent Defense Commission to provide assistance to Public Defender Services with regard to the general policies and procedures of the agency, including, but not limited to, the opening of public defender offices throughout the state and the establishment of performance measures for the qualitative review of indigent defense.
(b) In order to demonstrate a collaborative approach to solving criminal justice problems, the commission shall consist of the Executive Director of Public Defender Services, who shall serve as chair, the Director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Institute, and the following members appointed by the Governor:
(1) One former or retired circuit judge;
(2) Two lawyers experienced in providing legal services to the indigent;
(3) One current chief public defender; and
(4) One nonlawyer with a demonstrated commitment to providing legal services to the indigent.
(c) The commission shall meet at the times and places specified by the call of the chair:
Provided, That the commission shall meet no less than four times each year. Members shall serve without compensation but may receive reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses for each day or portion thereof engaged in this discharge of official duties in a manner consistent with the guidelines of the Travel Management Office of the Department of Administration.
(d) The appointed members of the commission serve four-year terms that shall coincide with the term of the Governor.
(e) The commission has the following powers and duties:
(1) To develop standards regarding the qualifications and training for public defenders, assistant public defenders and staff;
(2) To explore opportunities related to the training of appointed panel attorneys;
(3) To evaluate, on an annual basis, the caseloads of public defenders and appointed panel attorneys;
(4) To develop standards for providing and compensating expert witnesses, investigators and other persons who provide services related to legal representation under this article;
(5) To study, monitor and evaluate existing standards for determining eligibility for legal representation under section sixteen of this article;
(6) To approve the creation of additional public defender corporations, the activation of public defender corporations and the formation of multicircuit or regional public defender corporations in accordance with the provisions of section eight of this article; and
(7) To monitor and make recommendations regarding the following activities of the board of directors of each public defender corporation receiving funding pursuant to this article:
(A) The appointment of the public defender and any assistant public defenders pursuant to subdivision (1), subsection (c), section fifteen of this article;
(B) The fixing of professional and clerical salaries pursuant to subdivision (2), subsection (c), section fifteen of this article; and
(C) The removal of any public defender, assistant public defender or other employee for misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance pursuant to subdivision (3), subsection (c), section fifteen 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 any other grants and contracts as that 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 otherwise.
(c) The agency shall establish and the executive director or his or her designee 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 related 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 or her designate designee 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 The accounting and auditing 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 accounting and auditing 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 corporation to periodically submit financial statements monthly and to report monthly on the billable and nonbillable time of its professional employees, including time utilized used in administration of the respective offices, so as to compare such the time to similar time expended in nonpublic law offices for like similar 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 This 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 his or her designee 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 his or her designee 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 the 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 use 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 may select and employ staff attorneys to perform the duties prescribed by this subsection. The appellate division shall maintain vouchers and records for of representation of eligible clients for record purposes only.
§29-21-8. Public defender corporations; establishment thereof.
(a) (1) In each judicial circuit of the state, there is hereby created a public defender corporation of the circuit: Provided, That the executive director, with the approval of the Indigent Defense Commission, may authorize the creation of an additional public defender corporation in a judicial circuit where the creation of such additional public defender corporation would improve the quality of legal representation, assure the prudent and resourceful expenditure of state funds and further the purposes of this article: Provided, however, That prior to the creation of additional public defender corporations in accordance with this subsection, the executive director shall provide a report to the Secretary of the Department of Administration regarding the caseload and annual budget of the existing corporation and all payments made to panel attorneys appointed in the circuit.
(2) The purpose of these public defender corporations is to provide legal representation in the respective circuits in accordance with the provisions of this article. A public defender corporation may employ full-time attorneys and employ part-time attorneys in whatever combination that the public defender corporation deems most cost effective.
(b) If the judge of a single-judge circuit, the chief judge of a multi-judge 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 If the executive director, with the approval of the Indigent Defense Commission, determines there is a need to activate a corporation in a judicial circuit of the state, he or she shall certify that fact in writing to the Secretary of the Department of Administration. The executive director shall allocate funds to those corporations so certifying certified corporations in the order in which he or she deems most efficient and cost effective.
(c) The executive director, with the approval of the Indigent Defense Commission, may require public defender corporations may apply in writing to the executive director for permission to merge to form multicircuit or regional public defender corporations where a merger would improve the quality of legal representation, assure the prudent and resourceful expenditure of state funds and further the purposes of this article. 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 are available to serve as counsel for eligible clients. 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. An agreement to accept cases generally or certain types of cases particularly shall may not prevent a panel attorney from declining an appointment in a specific case.
(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 the following order of preference:
(1)
In circuits where a public defender office is in operation, the judge shall appoint the public defender office unless such an 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;
(2) If the public defender office is not available for appointment, the court shall appoint one or more panel attorneys from the local panel;
(3) If there is no local panel attorney available, the judge shall appoint one or more panel attorneys from the regional panel;
(4) 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;
(5) If the adjoining public defender office does not accept the appointment, the judge may appoint a panel attorney from an adjoining circuit; or
(6) If a panel attorney from an adjoining circuit is unavailable, the judge may appoint a panel attorney from any circuit.
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.
(c) 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 appointed: Provided, That any time a court, in appointing counsel pursuant to the provisions of this section, alters the order of appointment as set forth herein, the order of appointment shall contain the court's reasons for doing so.
§29-21-13. Approval of public defender corporation funding applications; funding; recordkeeping by public defender corporations.

(a) On or before the first day of May of each year, each active public defender corporation shall submit to the executive director a funding application and a proposed budget for the ensuing fiscal year. The accounting and auditing division shall review all funding applications and prepare recommendations for an operating plan and annual budget for each public defender corporation. The executive director shall review the funding applications and the accounting and auditing recommendations and shall, in consultation with the applicants the board of directors of each public defender corporation, prepare a plan for providing legal services, execute a funding contract for the fiscal year and commit funds for that purpose.
(b) Upon final approval of a funding application by the executive director, the approved budget shall be set forth in an approval notice. The total cost to the agency shall not exceed the amount set forth in the approval notice and the agency shall not be obligated to reimburse the recipient for costs incurred in excess of the amount unless and until a program modification has been approved in accordance with the provisions of this article. At the discretion of the executive director, when caseloads increase or unusual expenses occur, funding contracts may be amended during a fiscal year if necessary to provide cost effective representation.
(c) Funding of public defender corporations or other programs or entities providing legal representation under the provisions of this article shall be by annual grants disbursed in such periodic allotments as the executive director shall deem appropriate.
(d) All recipients of funding under this article shall maintain such records as required by the executive director.
§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. The executive director shall establish guidelines for the submission of vouchers and claims for fees and expense reimbursements under this section. Claims submitted more than four years ninety calendar days after the last date of service shall be rejected.
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 a lesser sum the court considers appropriate.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, Public Defender Services may pay by direct bill, prior to the completion of the case, litigation expenses incurred by attorneys appointed under this article.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, 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. The executive director, in his or her discretion, may authorize periodic payments where ongoing representation extends beyond six months in duration. The amounts of any fees or expenses paid to the panel attorney on an interim basis, when combined with any 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.
(d) 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. For paralegal's work performed out of court for the attorney, compensation shall be at the rate of the paralegal's regular compensation on an hourly basis or, if salaried, at the hourly rate of compensation which would produce the paralegal's current salary, but in no event shall the compensation exceed 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 compensation for paralegal's work performed in court shall be allowed. In-court work includes, but is not limited to, all time spent awaiting hearing or trial if the presence of the attorney is required before a judge, magistrate, special master or other judicial officer.
(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, the amount as the court may approve; for all other eligible proceedings, three thousand dollars unless the court, for good cause shown, approves payment of a larger sum.
(e) Actual and necessary expenses incurred in providing legal representation for proceedings of any kind involving felonies for which a penalty of life imprisonment may be imposed, including, but not limited to, expenses for travel, transcripts, salaried or contracted investigative services and expert witnesses, shall be reimbursed in an amount as the court may approve. For all other eligible proceedings, 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 one thousand five hundred dollars unless the court, for good cause shown, approves reimbursement of a larger sum.
Expense vouchers shall specifically set forth the nature, amount and purpose of expenses incurred and shall provide receipts, invoices or other documentation required by the executive director and the State Auditor:
(1) (A) Reimbursement of expenses for production of transcripts of proceedings reported by a court reporter is limited to the cost per original page and per copy page as set forth in section four, article seven, chapter fifty-one of this code. Reimbursement of the cost of copies of such transcripts is limited to the cost per copy page as provided for under said section. It is the duty of the executive director of Public Defender Services to maintain computer records of all transcripts, including originals and copies, for which payment has been made.
(B) (i) There shall be no reimbursement of expenses for or production of a transcript of a preliminary hearing before a magistrate or juvenile referee, or of a magistrate court jury trial, which has been reported by a court reporter at the request of the attorney, where the preliminary such hearing or jury trial has also been recorded electronically in accordance with the provisions of section eight, article five, chapter fifty of this code or court rule.
(ii) Reimbursement of the expense of an appearance fee for a court reporter who reports a proceeding other than one described in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph or who reports a proceeding which is not reported by an official court reporter acting in his or her official capacity for the court, is limited to twenty-five dollars. Where a transcript of a proceeding is produced, there shall be no reimbursement for the expense of any appearance fee. Where a transcript is requested by the attorney after an appearance fee has been paid, reimbursement of the expense incurred to obtain the transcript is limited to the cost of producing the transcript, within the prescribed limitations of paragraph (a) of this subdivision, less the amount of the paid appearance fee.
(iii) Reimbursement of travel expenses incurred for travel by a court reporter is subject to the limitations provided by subdivision (2) of this subsection.
(iv) Except for the appearance fees provided in this paragraph, there shall be no reimbursement for hourly court reporters' fees or fees for other time expended by the court reporter, either at the proceeding or traveling to or from the proceeding.
(C) Reimbursement of the cost of transcription of tapes electronically recorded during preliminary hearings or magistrate court jury trials is limited to the rates established by the Supreme Court of Appeals for the reimbursement of transcriptions of electronically recorded hearings and trial one dollar per page.
(2) Reimbursement for any travel expense incurred in an eligible proceeding is limited to the rates for the reimbursement of travel expenses established by rules promulgated by the Governor pursuant to the provisions of section eleven, article eight, chapter twelve of this code and administered by the Secretary of the Department of Administration pursuant to the provisions of section forty-eight, article three, chapter five-a of this code.
(3) Reimbursement for investigative services is limited to a rate of thirty dollars per hour for work performed by an investigator.
(f) For purposes of compensation under this section, an appeal from magistrate court to circuit court, an appeal from a final order of the circuit court or a proceeding seeking an extraordinary remedy made to the Supreme Court of Appeals shall be considered a separate case.
(g) 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 the fact and sufficiently identify the several charges so as to enable the court to avoid a duplication of compensation for services rendered. 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 or the voucher guidelines established issued pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and in such circumstance shall return the voucher to the court or to the service provider for further review or correction.


NOTE: The purpose of the bill is to create the Indigent Defense Commission to assist Public Defender Services with regard to the general policies and procedures of the agency and to provide additional oversight of the costs and administration of the public defender corporations; to require corporations to submit monthly reports on billable and nonbillable time to the agency; to authorize the agency to create additional corporations in a judicial circuit with an active corporation, activate corporations, and require the merger of existing corporations; to establish an order of preference for the appointment of panel attorneys; to modify requirements for funding applications; to modify compensable expenses; and to authorize the executive director to establish guidelines for submission of vouchers and claims.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.


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