I decided to take a look at all of the court-appointed misdemeanor cases in Bell County, Texas from 2011. This table shows what I found, sorted alphabetically by defense attorney. The first column has the defense attorney’s name. The second column (“Count”) shows how many 2011 defendants that attorney was appointed to represent in 2011. The next column (“Average”) shows the average number of cases each defendant had. The fourth column (“Avg $”) shows the average amount paid to the defense attorney per defendant represented.
The last column is the most interesting, and it is what I was looking for. In Bell County, the Indigent Defense plan provides that a court-appointed attorney will be paid a flat-fee of $300 for representing an indigent defendant charged with a misdemeanor offense. If the defendant has additional cases, those are paid at the rate of $50 each—except it is capped at two extra cases. So, the end result is that $400 is the most an attorney will be paid for a defendant that ultimately pleads guilty or one which the defense attorney manages to get dismissed (regardless of the actual number of cases a defendant may have in total, and which the defense attorney must resolve).
The biggest loss suffered under this system last year was by Duane Miller. He represented a defendant named Frederick Dewayne Banks on 18 cases! The plan provides that he was to only be paid $400, though. So, the last column in this table (“Loss”) displays how much money each attorney lost as a result of the $400 cap. Using Mr. Miller as an example, the first case of the eighteen would be $300. Then, for the next 17 cases, it might have been $50 per case (for a total of $1,150). However, since he was only to have been paid $400, that means he theoretically lost $750 ($1,150 minus $400). Since that is the only 2011 case Mr. Miller lost money on, his loss total in the chart shows just that $750. By the way, the single-defendant runners up were Michael Magana who was appointed to represent Donnie Wayne Jones, Jr. on 12 cases; and Anthony Smith who was appointed to represent Jerry Keith Reed, III on 10 cases.
All-in-all, the top ten biggest total combined losses under the plan were suffered by: Duane Miller, Darryl Guess, E. Wayne Bachus, Jon Jon McDurmitt, Suzanne Wohleb, Michael Magana, Buck Harris, Bradley Williamson, and Thomas Seigman.
Here is the data:
Interestingly, 30% of defense attorneys did not lose anything under this plan. However, for the 70% majority who did lose money, the average loss was $191.84 each time they lost money.
It is clearly a good indigent defense plan for Bell County taxpayers, though. I say this sarcastically because this plan saved all of $9,400 for 2011 misdemeanor court-appointments out of a multi-million dollar budget! Way to go Bell County!!!
It is amazing that the county somehow convinced the local defense attorneys to work for reduced fees in order to keep our taxes down less than one-hundredth of a percent (that is 0.0085%) [Bell County spends $110,587,384 each year, so divide $9,400 into that and you get 0.0000850006543241858 to be exact).