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S.B. 149





Chief Sponsor: Gregory S. Bell

House Sponsor: Julie Fisher

             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill authorizes counties to create a legal defender's office as a department within
             10      county government.
             11      Highlighted Provisions:
             12          This bill:
             13          .    authorizes counties to create legal defender's offices;
             14          .    permits county legal defender's offices to contract with other counties and
             15      municipalities within the same judicial district to provide legal counsel and defense
             16      resources for indigent criminal defendants; and
             17          .    requires the court to assign criminal indigent defendants to the county legal
             18      defender's office for legal services.
             19      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             20          None
             21      Other Special Clauses:
             22          None
             23      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             24      AMENDS:
             25          77-32-201, as last amended by Chapters 209 and 251, Laws of Utah 2001
             26          77-32-302, as last amended by Chapter 251, Laws of Utah 2001
             27          77-32-304.5, as last amended by Chapter 133, Laws of Utah 2000

             28          77-32-306, as last amended by Chapter 251, Laws of Utah 2001
             30      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             31          Section 1. Section 77-32-201 is amended to read:
             32           77-32-201. Definitions.
             33          For the purposes of this chapter:
             34          (1) "Board" means the Indigent Defense Funds Board created in Section 77-32-401 .
             35          (2) "Compelling reason" may include the following circumstances:
             36          (a) a conflict of interest;
             37          (b) the contracting attorney does not have sufficient expertise to provide an effective
             38      defense of the indigent; or
             39          (c) the defense resource is insufficient or lacks expertise to provide a complete defense.
             40          (3) "Defense resources" means a competent investigator, expert witness, or other
             41      appropriate means necessary, for an effective defense of an indigent, but does not include legal
             42      counsel.
             43          (4) "Indigent" means a person qualifying as an indigent under indigency standards
             44      established in Part 3, Counsel for Indigents.
             45          (5) "Legal aid association" means a nonprofit defense association that provides counsel
             46      and defense resources for indigent defendants.
             47          (6) "Legal defender's office" means a department of county government created and
             48      authorized by the county legislative body to provide legal representation in criminal matters to
             49      indigent defenders.
             50          [(6)] (7) "Participating county" means a county which has complied with the provisions
             51      of this chapter for participation in the Indigent Capital Defense Trust Fund as provided in
             52      Sections 77-32-602 and 77-32-603 or the Indigent Felony Defense Trust Fund as provided in
             53      Sections 77-32-702 and 77-32-703 .
             54          [(7)] (8) "Serious offense" means a felony or capital felony.
             55          Section 2. Section 77-32-302 is amended to read:
             56           77-32-302. Assignment of counsel on request of indigent or order of court.
             57          (1) Legal counsel shall be assigned to represent each indigent and the indigent shall
             58      also be provided access to defense resources necessary for an effective defense, if the indigent

             59      is under arrest for or charged with a crime in which there is a substantial probability that the
             60      penalty to be imposed is confinement in either jail or prison if:
             61          (a) the indigent requests counsel or defense resources, or both; or
             62          (b) the court on its own motion or otherwise orders counsel, defense resources, or both
             63      and the defendant does not affirmatively waive or reject on the record the opportunity to be
             64      represented and provided defense resources.
             65          (2) (a) If a county responsible for providing indigent legal defense, including counsel
             66      and defense resources, has established a county legal defender's office and the court has
             67      received notice of the establishment of the office, the court shall assign to the county legal
             68      defender's office the responsibility to defend indigent defendants within the county and provide
             69      defense resources.
             70          [(2) (a)] (b) If the county or municipality responsible to provide for the legal defense of
             71      an indigent, including defense resources and counsel, has arranged by contract to provide those
             72      services through a legal aid association, and the court has received notice or a copy of the
             73      contract, the court shall assign the legal aid association named in the contract to defend the
             74      indigent and provide defense resources.
             75          [(b)] (c) If the county or municipality responsible for providing indigent legal defense,
             76      including counsel and defense resources, has contracted to provide those services through
             77      individual attorneys, individual defense resources, or associations providing defense resources,
             78      and the court has received notice or a copy of the contracts, the court shall assign a contracting
             79      attorney as the legal counsel to represent an indigent and a contracted defense resource to
             80      provide defense-related services.
             81          [(c) The] (d) If no county legal defender's office exists, the court shall select and
             82      assign an attorney or defense resource if:
             83          (i) the contract for indigent legal services is with multiple attorneys or resources; or
             84          (ii) the contract is with another attorney in the event of a conflict of interest.
             85          [(d)] (e) If the court considers the assignment of a noncontracting attorney or defense
             86      resource to provide legal services to an indigent defendant despite the existence of an indigent
             87      legal services contract and the court has a copy or notice of the contract, before the court may
             88      make the assignment, it shall:
             89          (i) set the matter for a hearing;

             90          (ii) give proper notice of the hearing to the attorney of the responsible county or
             91      municipality; and
             92          (iii) make findings that there is a compelling reason to appoint a noncontracting
             93      attorney or defense resource.
             94          [(e)] (f) The indigent's preference for other counsel or defense resources may not be
             95      considered a compelling reason justifying the appointment of a noncontracting attorney or
             96      defense resource.
             97          (3) The court may make a determination of indigency at any time.
             98          Section 3. Section 77-32-304.5 is amended to read:
             99           77-32-304.5. Reasonable compensation for defense counsel for indigents.
             100          (1) This section does not apply to any attorney:
             101          (a) under contract with the county or municipality for defense of an indigent person;
             102      [or]
             103          (b) in the legal defender organization, legal aid agency, law firm, or public defender
             104      association with which that attorney is professionally associated[.]; or
             105          (c) who is an employee of a county legal defender's office.
             106          (2) (a) The county or municipality shall pay reasonable compensation to any attorney
             107      assigned by the court under Subsection 77-32-306 at the conclusion of the representation or any
             108      segment of the representation, as provided in Subsections (2)(b), (c), (d), and (e):
             109          (i) before the district or justice courts, including interlocutory appeals; and
             110          (ii) before the appellate court on a first appeal of right.
             111          (b) The legislative body of each county and municipality shall establish and annually
             112      review guidelines for the rate of compensation, taking into account:
             113          (i) the nature and complexity of the case;
             114          (ii) the competency and years of experience in criminal defense of the assigned
             115      attorney;
             116          (iii) the adjusted net hourly rate incurred by the county or municipality for a prosecutor
             117      or public defender of equivalent experience and competency; and
             118          (iv) the prevailing rates within the judicial district for comparable services.
             119          (c) If the legislative body of a county or municipality does not establish the rate
             120      guidelines, the rate of compensation shall be determined by the trial judge or a judge other than

             121      the trial judge if requested by:
             122          (i) the assigned attorney; or
             123          (ii) the county or municipality.
             124          (d) If the assigned attorney disagrees with the amount of compensation paid or
             125      contemplated for payment by the county or municipality, the assigned attorney shall
             126      nonetheless continue to represent the indigent defendant and may file a claim against:
             127          (i) the county pursuant to Section 17-50-401 , in which event the period for a denial by
             128      the county shall be 20 days; or
             129          (ii) the municipality pursuant to Title 10, Chapter 6, Uniform Fiscal Procedures Act for
             130      Utah Cities.
             131          (e) In determining the reasonable compensation to be paid to defense counsel under
             132      Subsections (2)(c) and (d), the court shall consider the factors contained in Subsections
             133      (2)(b)(i) through (iv).
             134          (f) The total compensation in a noncapital case may not, without prior court approval
             135      following a hearing, exceed:
             136          (i) $3,500 for each assigned attorney in a case in which one or more felonies is
             137      charged;
             138          (ii) $1,000 for each assigned attorney in a case in which only misdemeanors or lesser
             139      offenses are charged; or
             140          (iii) $2,500 for each assigned attorney in the representation of an indigent in an
             141      appellate court on a first appeal of right.
             142          Section 4. Section 77-32-306 is amended to read:
             143           77-32-306. County or municipal legislative body to appoint counsel or defense
             144      resources or provide these services through legal aid associations.
             145          (1) The county or municipal legislative body shall either:
             146          (a) contract to provide the legal defense, including counsel, defense resources, or both,
             147      as prescribed by this chapter, and as available, through:
             148          (i) a legal aid association; or
             149          (ii) one or more defense associations or attorneys and qualified defense resources; [or]
             150          (b) authorize the court to provide the services prescribed by this chapter by assigning a
             151      qualified attorney in each case[.]; or

             152          (c) create a county legal defender's office to provide for the legal defense, including
             153      counsel and defense resources or both, as prescribed by this chapter.
             154          (2) The department may, through the county legislative body contract with other
             155      counties and municipalities within a judicial district to provide the legal services as prescribed.
             156          [(2)] (3) When a county or municipality has contracted under Subsection (1)(a) or has
             157      created a legal defender's office as provided under Subsection (1)(c) to provide the legal
             158      counsel and defense resources required by this chapter, the contracted legal aid association or
             159      attorneys and contracted defense resources are the exclusive source from which the legal
             160      defense may be provided, unless the court finds a compelling reason for the appointment of
             161      noncontracting attorneys and defense resources, in which case the judge shall state the
             162      compelling reason on the record.

Legislative Review Note
    as of 1-12-06 1:58 PM

Based on a limited legal review, this legislation has not been determined to have a high
probability of being held unconstitutional.

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel

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