Casey Anthony’s attorneys have billed the state more than $147,000 to prepare her defense for her recently completed trial, and about $118,000 has been paid.
I have bLAWgged about this before (click here). This is how it works, folks. Sorry. Everyone has the right to be defended by the attorney or his or her choice. Attorneys cost money – lots of money in murder cases. Sometimes defendants spend all their money on attorney’s fees, and have little if none left over for depositions, experts, subpoenas, etc – – which are called costs. Due process dictates that a defendant is entitled to those things which can reasonably assist the defense (something about the Sixth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, you know, stuff I dont want to bore you with here).
The State of Florida has statutes and rules of court that provide for due process costs for indigent defendants. If you have no money, you are indigent, and the costs for experts etc can be taxed to the State. It’s the law.
Understand that a person is indigent even if he or she has private counsel (not just when the defendant has been appointed a public defender). If mom and dad hire you a lawyer, and you have no money of your own, you are indigent. The costs are then paid for by the State.
Years ago, it was a regular procedure for attorneys to have their clients declared indigent, and rack up the costs payable by the State. In 2005, the law changed, and it is a LOT harder to get those costs paid. Nowadays, the determination as to whether the State will pay the costs is made by looking at how much the private attorney was paid. So, if you or someone on your behalf, paid an attorney a certain amount (varies on the case), then you are presumed NOT indigent and the Judicial Administration Commission will fight paying the costs. The attorney is left holding the bag (of bills).
In death penalty cases, however, the State is extra careful. If we are going to kill someone, we need to make sure we are right about the conviction. So, the rules are relaxed to a great degree to permit the defense to liberally investigate and defend the case. If not, then there could be grounds for an appeal (or other post-conviction attack) alleging that the attorney was ineffective – and a demand for a new trial.
We may not all agree on the verdict. But we must agree that the costs associated with the trial – and the defense – were worth the effort.