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Fri, April 19

Court costs considered
Supervisors may create Office of Indigent Legal Services

KINGMAN - A new plan is in the works to take some of the confusion out of indigent defense at the County Superior Court.

The County Public Defender's and Legal Defender's offices will present a plan during Tuesday's Board of Supervisor's meeting that will create an Office of Indigent Legal Services. The Board will meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the County Administration Building, 700 W. Beale St.

The office, according to material provided to the Board, will reorganize how indigent defense cases are processed.

Currently, if a defendant cannot afford to pay for an attorney, a judge assigns the case to the PDO. If the PDO has a conflict of interest in taking the case or currently does not have an attorney that can take the case, the case is then assigned to the LDO. If the LDO has a conflict of interest or does not have an attorney who can take the case, it is sent back to the PDO, which then assigns it, via a contract, to an outside attorney. Outside attorneys are paid a set hourly wage per case.

If approved, the director of the new Office of Indigent Legal Services would determine which indigent defense cases will go to the LDO or PDO, and which ones will be contracted to outside attorneys. The office will also oversee the use of investigators, experts, interpreters and other services used by attorneys in order to keep costs down.

The idea is to create a more efficient and cost effective way of processing and recording cases, said Ron Gilleo, legal defender.

Both the LDO and PDO have been working on a more efficient way of handling indigent defense for a number of years, he said. Having a single office that determines where the cases go and keeps track of the cases makes things easier and reduces ethical conflicts.

Public Defender Dana Hlavac was not available for comment.

The Board will also consider authorizing the three supervisors and the county manager to choose any make or model vehicle up to $40,000 to replace their current vehicles.

The Board is also expected to:

• Authorize the sale, at public auction, of miscellaneous county property.

• Approve the signed petitions regarding the annexation of the Santa Claus area into the Golden Valley Fire District.

• Approve $23,000 for Arizona Department of Environmental Quality engineering fees for Phase V of the Golden Valley Improvement District expansion.

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