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Old 04-17-2005, 12:58 PM
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Default State Pays Private Lawyer $2 Million for One Case

Bill requires judge's approval for defense expenses in death penalty cases

By MATT ADRIAN - H&R Springfield Bureau Writer SPRINGFIELD - The high cost of a Southern Illinois murder case has caused state lawmakers to reconsider how the state pays defense lawyers in death penalty trials.

The Senate passed a measure requiring defense lawyers who dip into a state fund to submit a budget for the trial judge to approve. Under the proposal, a judge could refuse to pay defense costs if the lawyer fails to properly document expenses.

The reforms come after the defense lawyer in the Cecil Sutherland murder trial walked away with over $2 million from the capital litigation fund. The lawyer's private investigator was paid $500,000 in state money.

"I thought it was a total abuse of this fund," said state Sen. John O. Jones, R-Mount Vernon, a co-sponsor of the legislation.

On June 11, 2004, Sutherland was found guilty of the murder and rape of 10-year-old Amy Schultz of Kell. The six-week retrial came after a 2000 Illinois Supreme Court ruling that his defense was inadequate.

The state treasurer's office runs the fund.

"We do have concerns about some of the expenses," said Martin Noven, chief legal counsel for the treasurer's office. "We've seen bills come across our desk that we're ordered to pay that haven't looked as reasonable as some other bills."

The fund provides money for prosecutors, public defenders and private attorneys. For the current budget year, downstate prosecutors could access $1 million and public defenders can tap into $500,000. The fund started with $3 million for private attorneys.



WOW - $2 million for one murder trial. What can I say.....
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Old 04-17-2005, 04:50 PM
babygirl350 babygirl350 is offline
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If they started with 3 million in the fund and they paid a lawyer 2 million, I would say the state is going to go broke very shortly. By the sounds of it someone is not verifying the bills very closely. Just my thoughts.
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