Casey Anthony defense bills state $147,000

via Casey Anthony defense bills state $147,000.

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.


Drew Peterson defense team commenting on Casey Anthony

The Huffington Post has an article about Drew Peterson (who is charged with killing one wife and suspected of killing another wife) commenting, through his attorneys, about the Anthony acquittal.  The Peterson defense team approved of the verdict, commenting, “The jury’s job is not to act emotionally. A jury’s job is to evaluate whether or not the government has sufficient evidence, and it looks like in the Casey Anthony case they felt the government did not have sufficient evidence to prove their case.”

In the new era of online news and social media coverage, this is an interesting move.  We will have to wait to see what, if any, impact these comments will have on Peterson’s trial.  I probably would not have done anything to link, in any way, my client to Casey Anthony (arguably one of the most unpopular people in the world).  The comments were benign and should not draw any ire.  Maybe the comments caught my eye in light of the Anthony team’s use of online comments to monitor public opinion/sentiment and tailor their arguments.

As I posted last week on Twitter, we are in a new era, where social media plays a part in the preparation of high-profile trials.  Perhaps the Peterson defense team knows EXACTLY what they are doing, and are trying to send a message to potential jurors to be open-minded, unemotional, and fair.  If that is the case, it may end up being a brilliant move.

The question becomes, what happens to all those defendants who are going to trial on cases with NO media coverage.  Is it fair that those defendants don’t have access to the media.  Who knows.  We’ll see. . .

Casey Anthony gets money from the State

An explanation of why the State of Florida is paying for part of Casey Anthony’s defense.

Casey AnthonyWell, not exactly.  She will have some of the costs of her defense paid for by the State.  Defendants may be declared indigent for the purposes of payment of due process costs while having a paid, private lawyer.  Here’s the rub:

Certain costs are common in criminal cases.  Process servers (for subpoenas), court reporters, investigators, experts, etc are necessary and have to be paid.  A defendant who may have a private attorney is just as entitled to those services as a defendant who has the Public Defender representing him or her.  However, the private-attorney defendant may not actually be paying the lawyer – someone else is paying the attorney’s fees for that defendant.  That defendant may be just as broke as the PD client.

So, the State provides for payment of costs (not fees) in those limited circumstances.  I beleive that to be fair.  Everyone should remember that those costs are capped at certain amounts for various services, and strictly monitored by the State.  If the attorney incurs a cost that the State refuses to pay, the the attorney is stuck holding the bill.

Casey Anthony’s case appears to be a hybrid of others paying the bills and money simply having run out.  If her attorneys want to work something out to be paid in a different manner at a later time, and continue to work on the case, then that is between them and the client.  However, they cannot work up a death penalty case without incurring massive costs.

And, if the State is wanting to execute Casey Anthony, then we as a society sould be prepared to provide her the best defense possible, so that if she is ultimately executed, we as a society have a collective clean conscience.  But that is a bLAWg for a different day . . .

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