State V. Wigley
624 So.2d 425 (La. 1993)
Pennie Wigley and Robert Higginbotham were each charged with capital murder in two unrelated cases. Both of them were indigent. The trial judge appointed four lawyers to represent them, two to each case. Three of the four attorneys were civil practitioners with little criminal law experience. The attorneys asked the court to compensate them and reimburse their out-of-pocket expenses in connection with their representation of Mr. Wigley and Mr. Higginbotham. The judge denied their motions.
In this case, the Court was asked to determine whether attorneys may be required to represent indigent defendants with no compensation or reimbursement of expenses. The Court recognized the professional obligation of attorneys to provide pro bono public service work, but also noted:
". . . requiring the appointed uncompensated attorneys Ïto bear the stenographic, secretarial, and out-of-pocket expense requiredÓ in connection with an assigned representation  are, by now, outmoded, and no longer comport with the requirement that the burden placed on attorneys be ÏreasonableÓ and Ïnot oppressive.Ó
The Court then found that requiring attorneys to represent indigents with no compensation or reimbursement of expenses, Ïwhen the attorneys must maintain their own practices and continue to meet their other professional and financial obligations . . . is so onerous that it constitutes an abusive extension of their professional obligations.
In its holding, the Court found that assigned counsel must be reimbursed for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses and overhead costs. The Court further found that attorneyÌs fees need not necessarily be paid, Ïas long as the time the attorney must devote to cases for which he does not receive a fee does not reach unreasonable levels.Ó Finally, the Court acknowledged that the source of funds from which appointed counsel may be reimbursed were limited and directed the trial judges to make the initial determination, before counsel is appointed, that sufficient funds Ïto cover the anticipated expenses and overhead are likely to be available to reimburse counsel.Ó
Upcoming TrainingFor more information, contact:
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Wednesday, October 21 – Friday, October 23, 2015
CROWNE PLAZA NEW ORLEANS AIRPORT
2829 WILLIAMS BLVD.
KENNER, LA 70062
Capital Defender Training for Attorneys, Investigators and Mitigation Specialists
This is an interactive training entitled “Teamwork & Developing Your Theory of the Case.” The program is for certified counsel and counsel seeking certification to represent indigent capitally charged clients. The conference is specifically designed to include attorneys, paralegals, investigators and mitigation specialists handling capital cases in Louisiana state courts.
Sunday, September 27 – Friday, Oct 2, 2015
The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy offers an opportunity to participate in one of the most complete and comprehensive courses for criminal defense investigators in the country, open to criminal defense investigators as well as attorneys who want to work more effectively with investigators.
Participants can attend as teams (an investigator and an attorney) or individually – we will match individuals up with another participant for the week.
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