Dec. 18, 2018 – Wisconsin’s criminal justice system is facing a crisis – it lacks the funding and support necessary to ensure swift and fair trials for all of the accused.
This issue is well known among those who work in criminal justice. Representatives from across the spectrum have banded together to propose a comprehensive budget reform package for 2019. One important fix: increase the amount the state reimburses private attorneys who accept State Public Defender cases for indigent clients.
Governor-elect Tony Evers and Lt. Governor-elect Mandela Barnes are traveling the state hosting round-table discussions called “Building the People’s Budget.”
The Evers transition is team is also allowing public comment through an online budget survey. Let them know how the deficient private bar reimbursement rate affects you, your practice, your clients, and your community by completing a budget survey.
Include Facts and Personal Perspectives
You may find the below facts useful in completing the survey, but be sure you add your personal perspectives based on your experiences as a lawyer in the field, or as a member of the public interested in protecting the Sixth Amendment.
· At $40/hour, Wisconsin currently has the lowest private bar rate in the nation, a rate unchanged since 1995. Adjusted for inflation, that rate would be $63.94 in 2017.
· These hourly rates are less than the typical attorney’s break-even point and well below the market rate.
· Stagnation has led to significant problems finding qualified attorneys to take on certain cases, particularly those involving sexual assault.
· The State Bar believes that an individual’s constitutional right to a fair trial with an effective defense will erode.
· If the rate were to be increased, it would aid in maintaining the quality of legal defense representation provided to SPD clients, as well as reduce delays in the court system.
With your help, we can pull Wisconsin up from the lowest reimbursement rate in the nation and ensure that we are a state that provides "justice for all.”
Complete the budget survey
More Information/Related Articles
Country’s Lowest Pay Rate for SPD Appointments Equals Constitutional Crisis – InsideTrack (May 17, 2018)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Raises Lawyer Pay for Court Appointments, Takes No Action on SPD Rate – WisBar News (May 18, 2018)
State of the Judiciary: Increasing SPD Rate Paid to Private Bar a Top Priority – WisBar News (Oct. 31, 2018)