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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Chief Public Defender Tim Sledd reports his office is more efficient in 2022

LAWRENCE COUNTY - JANUARY 26, 2023 - Lawrence County Chief public defender's office has been providing more transparency and communication to Lawrence County officials.

This comes after two years, of the high cost of contractual labor of public defender's office to the county's taxpayers.

From the 4th Quarter of 2021 until the 3rd Quarter of 2022 there was more than $1,117,038.25 in expenditures from the Lawrence County Defenders office.

The calendar year of 2022, the Lawernce County Public Defender Agency earned Lawrence County general fund a total of $392,331.25 in reimbursements from the Indiana Public Defender Commission. Net cost to Lawrence County for the Lawrence County Public Defenders Agency was $724,708.08.

The Indiana Public Defender Commission reimburses 40 percent of expenditures related to the representation in felony cases, Children in Need of services cases, and termination of parental rights cases.

Lawrence County Chief Public Defender Timothy Sledd talks about changes and operations to the Lawrence County Public Defender Agency

Lawrence County was 100 percent responsible for all expenses in all other matters to which the public defender's office was appointed which includes misdemeanor criminal cases, juvenile misdemeanor cases and status offenses cases, and other cases in which the courts appoint a public defender.

The county is remibursed for employee benefits annd health insurance.

In March 2022, Lawrence County elected to participate in the Federal Title IV-E funding provided by the Indiana Public Defender Commission. This funding is spent for the public defense expenses in CHNS cases. Lawrence County has received at total of $10,422.37 in payments since the 4th quarter of 2021 up to the 3rd quarter of 2022.

In 2020 and 2021 the public defender's office did not comply on numerous occassions with the standards of the public defender commission. After the hiring of Sledd in the mid-year of 2022 there have been no special public defender cases since.

In 2022, the budget for the public defender's office was a total of $896,053, and a total of $2,790.82 of its budget into the general fund. Only $40,000 was alloted by the Lawrence County Council in 2022 for the experts and the Special Public Defender's fund. That fund was exhausted in March.

There were several transfer requests to move unspent money from full-time salary and other line items to contract services in the amount of $79,587. The public defender's office received additional appropriations totaling $70,000 for contract services.

A total of $186,636 was spent on contractual services in 2022, compared to $217,264 in 2021.

Indiana law requires Lawrence County Courts to order defendants to contribute to their defense which is $50 for misdemeanors and $100 for felonies if they are financially able.

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If at sentencing the court determines that the defendant is able, the court may order the defendant to pay the entire cost of his/her defense.

The Lawrence County Public Defender agency was not fully staffed at the first half of 2022. In January 2022, Bruce Andis announced his retirement effective September 1, 2022.

Tim Sledd was appointed as Chief Public Defender Board which consisted of Bill Spreen, Brent Steele and Jerry Hill.

The public defender staff includes, Timothy Sledd, Daniel Dixon, Nicholas Moll, Nicole, Silvensky, Bradley Swihart, Adam Larmier, Denise Turner, and Patrick Smith.

Grace Blanton, Kathy McDowell, and Bonnie Hopkins work on the administrative team.

An intern program is also providing additional staffing. The internship program has no additional expenses to the county.

The Indiana Public Defender Commission mandates that caseloads do not exceed by each public defender in order for the county to receive compensation. The number of those cases can handle is dependent on the support services provided by the public defender agency.

The commission standards with adequate support services can handle roughly 15 percent more cases than those without inadequate support services.

In 2022, the Lawrence County Courts appointed the Lawrence County Public Defender Agency to 1,423 cases in calendar year 2022.

Since 2010, The Lawrence County Public Defender Agency brought in $3,344,164.85 in state reimbursement as of the third quarter of 2022.


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