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The Champion

September/October 2005 , Page 56 

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Public Defense: News Briefs

By Malia Brink

Read more Public Defense columns.

Massachusetts Adopts Significant Reform

In late July, Massachusetts enacted significant indigent defense reform — doubling the number of public defenders in the state and substantially increasing the appropriation for appointed counsel services. The Massachusetts reform was years in the making, and the overall result is an increase of more than 50 percent in spending on indigent defense during the past two years.

Prior to this reform, the rate paid to court appointed counsel in Massachusetts was among the lowest in the country, with most lawyers receiving between $30-$40/hour. In 2002, the commission that governs indigent defense in Massachusetts, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, recommended raising the rates to between $60-$120/hour, depending upon the type of case, but the legislature did not fund the increases.

In the wake of this impasse, some court appointed attorneys received notices that they would not be paid for past work because of budget

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