Constitutional Law

Top Pa. Court Orders Hearings on Adequacy of Attorney's Fees in Phila. Death-Penalty Cases


Exercising its extraordinary jurisdictional powers, as it was urged to do in a petition by a nonprofit Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court yesterday appointed a judge to hold hearings on the adequacy of the legal fees paid to court-appointed attorneys in Philadelphia capital murder cases.

The group says the attorney’s fees–$2,000 for pretrial preparation of the case and no more than $400 per day at trial–are so low they violate a defendant’s constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

An earlier Philadelphia Inquirer story published in June when the group filed its petition, provides additional details.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner will oversee the hearings. They are to be held within 90 days, after which the judge is to make recommendations to the supreme court within 60 days.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Defense Attorneys in Death Penalty Cases in Philadelphia File Court Challenge to Low Pay”

Hat tip: Associated Press

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