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GA Judge Tells County to Pay for Alleged Gunman’s Lawyer

Posted Oct 12, 2007 10:10 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Georgia judge has ordered county officials to pay legal fees to the lead lawyer defending alleged courthouse gunman Brian Nichols.

The lawyer, Henderson Hill, is charging $175 an hour, nearly double the state rate of $95 an hour. Judge Hilton Fuller said Fulton County should pay Hill’s legal bills stretching back to July, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Two county commissioners had vowed they wouldn’t pay a dime for the legal defense of the man accused of killing a judge and three others in a 2005 shooting rampage. But they appeared to be retreating from that statement after the ruling, the newspaper says.

The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, a state agency that pays for indigent defense, is paying legal fees for two other lawyers, while a fourth is working without charge. The agency has already spent more than $1.8 million to defend Nichols.

Lawyers for Nichols told Fuller in September that disputes over their legal fees are crippling the defense team. Hill said his team and law firm were awaiting payment for $132,000 in fees and expenses.

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