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By Malia Brink
Indigent Defense columns.
Victory for Court-Appointed Counsel in Alabama
On Dec. 26, 2006, the Alabama Supreme Court restored overhead payments
to court-appointed counsel who represent indigent persons charged with
criminal offenses. The overhead payments had been suspended in February
2005, after the Alabama attorney general issued an opinion stating that
the payment of overhead expenses was not required by statute. The
Supreme Court disagreed with the attorney general — unanimously — in
Wright v. Childree. As a result, court-appointed counsel will be paid
overhead expenses in the future, and will be repaid overhead expenses
that had been denied since February 2005.
The dispute involving overhead payments goes back many years. Alabama
law provides that court-appointed attorneys must receive a proscribed
hourly rate plus “reasonably incurred expenses.” In 1994, the Alabama
Court of Criminal Appeals interpreted reasonable expenses to include
In 1999, the law governi
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