April 18, 2008
BAR ADVOCATES PRAISE GOVERNOR’S SUPP BUDGET
Quick action needed to avoid delays in payment
Governor Patrick filed a supplemental budget on Tuesday that will help ensure that thousands of private lawyers who represent indigent persons on behalf of the commonwealth are paid on time for their services. “The governor’s action shows once again that he understands and respects the important work these lawyers do to uphold the constitutional right to counsel in Massachusetts,” said Springfield attorney Mark L. Hare, president of the Massachusetts Association of Court Appointed Attorneys.
The budget the governor filed will supplement fiscal year 2008 spending by the state. It includes, among other items, nearly $12.1 million for the Committee for Public Counsel Services to enable it to pay private counsel who represent indigent persons accused of crimes, as well as clients in children and family law matters. Without these additional funds, it is anticipated that the Committee for Public Counsel Services will run out of money by late May.
“Speedy passage of the supplemental budget is necessary to avoid delays in payment to these dedicated lawyers,” said Hare. “Moreover, the efficient movement of cases through the court system requires the appointment of counsel for indigent persons. We respectfully urge the Legislature to act promptly on the Governor’s request.”
Please direct all questions or requests for change in contact information to
Nancy McLean, Press Secretary, Massachusetts Association of Court Appointed Attorneys, nmm dot cape.com.
The Massachusetts Association of Court Appointed Attorneys is a non-profit corporation established in 2003 to ensure that the highest quality of legal representation is given to each and every person entitled to court appointed counsel regardless of ability to pay. MACAA encompasses all attorneys on all legal panels where counsel are appointed for indigent persons: defendants in the criminal system; juveniles involved in delinquency matters; children before the Court under the stubborn children statute; parents and children involved in Care and Protection proceedings; and indigent persons who are before the Court for mental health proceedings; proceedings before the sexual offender registration board; proceedings for the commitment of sexually dangerous persons; and appeals from all proceedings. MACAA was formed and is run on a voluntary basis by its own members. The Committee for Public Counsel Services is the state agency charged with training and oversight of these attorneys.
DISCLOSURE: I am the clerk/treasurer of the Massachusetts Association of Court Appointed Attorneys – I like getting paid on time and say “Thank you” myself, as well. Last year, the line item that pays for court appointed case work “ran dry” and I, and others, waited four to six months to be paid for work we had already done. I had to borrow to meet expenses and it will probably take more than a year to pay those lines of credit back.