Charlotte Observer: Defense of poor runs up state tab

“That didn’t stop court-appointed defense attorneys Duane Bryant of High Point and Bruce Lee of Greensboro. They sifted through thousands of pages of evidence and discovered one set of notes that “didn’t make sense, didn’t sound original.”

At the end of the six-week trial, Montgomery was found guilty of murdering Officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark. But he got life in prison – not the death penalty – because his attorneys were able to show those notes were flawed and violated rules of evidence.

N.C. taxpayers have spent about $475,000 – and counting – for attorneys and experts to defend Montgomery. It’s among the 10 most expensive indigent defenses this decade. All told, the state spent more than $126 million this fiscal year defending poor people accused of crimes or involved in certain civil proceedings. Prosecuting the case probably cost at least as much, if not more.”

“Of the $126 million North Carolina spent in fiscal year 2010 defending poor people accused of crimes or involved in certain civil proceedings, $18.3 million went toward potential capital cases at trial, on appeal and in post-conviction cases.

The cost of defending most murder cases is far less than Montgomery’s, according to an Indigent Defense Services study. About one in four capital murder cases had defense bills under $21,500. Three out of four cost less than $76,000.

Less than 5 percent of the 413 cases studied topped $300,000.”

Full article here «Defense of poor runs up state tab

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