In Oregon First, Defendant Asked to Pay for Trial

In what reportedly may be the first time this has happened in Oregon, a prosecutor in Deschutes County is asking a convicted defendant to foot a substantial portion of the cost of taking his case to trial.

The cost of trying John Michael Nilles for allegedly shaking a 16-month-old infant he considered his son to death was unusually high, because of the cost of medical care and medical experts needed as witnesses, reports AP.

Although it isn’t unusual to charge a convicted defendant for medical expenses related to his crime, adding prosecution costs to the bill goes too far and potentially chills a defendant’s rights, says Aaron Brenneman, a Bend, Oregon, lawyer who represented Nilles.

‘‘It violates not only the due process clause, but also equal protection of the U.S. Constitution.” he says. “It sets up a fact where we have someone who has no resources and they’re going to have to pay $20,000 of the state’s expenses. They’re going to be a lot less likely to go to trial than someone who’s more well off.’’

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