(BEDFORD) - The Lawrence County Public Defender Agency maintained full compliance with the standards set by the Indiana Public Defender Commission during 2011.
That qualified the county for more than $164,000 of state funds being deposited into the county's general fund, according to Chief Public Defender Lorinda Youngcourt.
Youngcourt presented her annual report at the Lawrence County Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning.
"As long as LCPDA meets caseload limits, attorney qualifications and fiscal guidelines established by the commission, the county is reimbursed 40 percent of the agencies expenditures attributable to defense representation in felony cases," Youngcourt says.
Youngcourt added the agency has provided all of its services at the cost of $6.95 per Lawrence County tax payer.
"We only have one county that is cheaper and that is Orange County at $6.84," She says. "But our services far surpass theirs."
Youngcourt told commissioners the agencies internship program for IU undergraduate and law students saved thousands of dollars in law clerk and investigator salaries and fees.
But with the internships, Youngcourt needs more office space so she asked the commissioners permission to use the empty county-owned building beside hers in Dunn Plaza. The use of the building will not cost the county anything and the state would reimburse the county for the use. The commissioners approved the request.
"The internship opportunities for undergraduates and law students provide valuable services to our clients, including conducting initial interviews in the jail, locating and interviewing witnesses, drafting pleadings and legal research," Youngcourt says.
The interns are interviewed, trained and supervised by Youngcourt. In exchange for their service interns receive course credit, job references, the use of the Youngcourt's national network of criminal lawyers and public defender offices developed through her services as faculty for the National Criminal Defense College at Mercer law School, in Macon, Georgia, board membership of the Indiana Public Defender Council and speaking engagements for the American Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Legal Aid and Defender Association and public defender organizations around the country.
The courts appointed public defenders in 992 cases in 2011.
The breakdown is as follows:
Class C to A Felonies and Murder 71
Class D Felonies 289
Juvenile Cases Class C to A Felonies 8
Juvenile Cases Class D Felonies 25
Juvenile Misdemeanors 27
Juvenile Status Offenses 30
CHINS and Parental Rights Termination 25
Petition to Revoke Probation 210
Other: Contempt, Extradition, etc. 27
Trial Appeals 4
Guilty Plea Appeals 5
The agency also implemented a paperless office and a video deposition system saving the county more than $25,000 a year.
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