Will Tennessee increase compensation for indigent representation? Part 1

In April of 2017, the Tennessee Indigent Representation Task Force submitted its 204 page report on improving indigent representation in Tennessee.  The task force was led by former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Koch and included judges, professors, and prominent attorneys.  Among other things, the group considered whether Tennessee attorneys were being fairly compensated for indigent representation.   Currently, attorneys representing indigent defendants in our state make $40 per hour out-of-court and $50 per hour “in court,” i.e., in front of a judge.  The last time that rate was raised was 1997, when $40 was worth $60.52 in 2017 dollars.

Tennessee’s rate of $40 per hour is lower than other states and the federal rate.  Personally, I think $40 is fair.  $40 per hour is $80,000 per year if someone works 40 hours per week for 50 weeks.  Granted, it’s tough to get that many cases, but I think this shows that the rate is fair.  My problem is not with the rate.  It is with the case caps.  But that is for Part 2.

Indigent Representation Hourly Rates in Other States:

Alabama – $70

Alaska – $50-$60

Arkansas – $50-$90

Colorado – $65-$68

Connecticut – $50-$75

Delaware – $60

Hawaii – $90

Indiana – $70

Iowa – $60-$70

Kansas – $62-$80

Kentucky – $75-$100

Maine – $50

Maryland – $50

Massachusetts – $50-$60

Montana – $60

Nebraska – $50-$75

Nevada – $100

New Hampshire – $60

New Jersey – $50-$60

New York – $60-$75

North Carolina – $55-$70

North Dakota –  $75

Ohio – $50-$60

Oregon – $45

Rhode Island – $50-$90

South Carolina – $40-$60

South Dakota –  $84

Vermont – $50

Washington – $50-$75

West Virginia – $45-$65

Wisconsin – $40

Wyoming – $30-$100

Federal cases pay $129 per hour.

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