6/08/2011

Casey Anthony Trial Defense Costs - How Much the State of Florida Has to Pay

Judge Perry, in a public hearing last year, approved the court clerk's determination that Casey Anthony was legally indigent.  By being declared "indigent" under the law, Casey would become eligible for her legal expenses to be paid by the State of Florida.  However, the defense did not request that her attorneys' fees be paid out of the state's pocket according to the media sources I reviewed today.  (Good summary provided by CBS News.)

One year later, according to Orlando's WESH-TV, the defense had spent $80,000 and was asking for more.  (Story here.)

That was back in March.  Who knows what the total is today. 

Two thoughts here:  first, death penalty cases are expensive to try.  You've got a guilt phase and if the defense loses there, then you've got a penalty phase - where death is debated.  Sentencing is a new ball game and there are different witnesses, etc. and with that a new set of expenses. 

Second, another good thing coming from the Casey Anthony coverage is the education of the American public on what it means, budget-wise, when an indigent is facing the death penalty.  The taxpayers are paying for BOTH SIDES of the case -- attorneys' fees and legal costs.  The fact that Baez isn't being paid by the State of Florida here, nor his death-qualified co-counsel, shouldn't be considered as what usually happens.

Some states try and cut these costs with Public Defender Offices, some have appointment lists of outside, private attorneys who are eligible to defend death penalty cases.  Either way, it's tax money.

6 comments:

A Voice of Sanity said...

A rule of thumb is $1 million plus $2 million per month.

The Scott Peterson trial cost a total of $11 million and all wasted - even crazies like Nancy Grace admit it will have to be retried.

Reba Kennedy said...

David Lohr is reporting that trial is going to cost less than a million, total.

Here is the link to his numbers:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/casey-anthony-jury-selection_n_864421.html#s290366&title=Casey_Anthony_Trial

Remember, attorneys' fees aren't included in the Anthony calculations unlike most other indigent defense trials.

The actual dollars will be reported sooner or later - the Florida JAC will have to approve the costs and all this will be public record.

Thx,
Reba

A Voice of Sanity said...

IME, the state tends to under quote these costs during the trial but the truth at the end is much worse. Take a look at this shocking information from Canada : Stayed murder charges after $30M trial warrant inquiry: lawyers.

Reba Kennedy said...

The state doesn't quote costs. They are on salary. Neither would a public defender's office, if one were involved.

When private practice attorneys have been appointed to represent an indigent, the defense team agrees to the indigent rate schedule/cost limits and submits invoices for expenses (and legal fees, in most cases - Casey Anthony's lawyers are working pro bono) which must be approved by the reviewing agency which pays the bills.

In Florida, the reviewing agency is the JAC. The defense invoices are submitted with mandatory supporting documentation and according to a calendar that is established by Florida statute and agency regulation.

Last time I checked, Florida's approved rate for a death qualified criminal defense attorney (e.g., Mason's level of lawyer) was $100.00/hour.

For more information, see the JAC site:

http://www.justiceadmin.org/

Thanks for writing,
Reba

A Voice of Sanity said...

"Florida's approved rate for a death qualified criminal defense attorney (e.g., Mason's level of lawyer) was $100.00/hour."

So not much more than a good electrician or plumber charges then? Astonishing.

Anonymous said...

This trial should have been televised on pay per view and 50% of the proceeds could have been used to pay for the trial instead of charging tax payers several million dollars for each murder trial.