• Bill Raines

Chief Public Defender Tim Sledd Reports no contract attorneys since July

LAWRENCE COUNTY - SEPTEMBER 13, 2022 - The Lawrence County Commissioners heard from Lawrence County Chief Public Defender Tim Sledd that his department has not had any contract attorneys since July.


Chief Public Defender explaining about the caseload of the public defenders office


The Lawrence County Public defender's office spent a total of $114,400 in 2022 for contractual labor. The approved budget for 2022 was $40,000. The request budget for 2023 was $190,00 for contractual labor. Due to full staffing of the agency the agency has only used one contractual attorney, since July.


Costs for a contractual attorney is over $100 an hour.


During Sledd's presentation to the county commissioners Tuesday morning gave an update on how the department is working on getting the department's budget under control.


The public defender's office budget proposals over the last couple of years have totaled over $1 Million. The Lawrence County council has reduced the 2022 budget at $896,053. The public defender budget for 2023 was proposed at $1.1 Million with Sledd bringing that total below the $1 Million mark in a revised budget proposal for the 2023 budget cycle.


Previous expenditures Lawrence County Public Defender's Office

  • 2020 Actual expenses - $696,102.39

  • 2021 Actual expenses - $870,355.05

  • 2022 Year to date expenses -$448,043.78 - Budget $896,053

Costs of Contractual Labor

  • 2020 Actual cost contractual labor - $160,786.78

  • 2021 Actual cost contractual labor - $217,244.18

  • 2022 Year to date contractual labor - $114,400


The public defender's office is reimbursed 40 percent of the costs if the county remains in compliance with the required caseloads.


Lawrence County Public Defenders office; over the last couple of years faced challenges due to turnover and low pay compared to other counties in the area.


By Indiana Public Defender Commission, the public defenders are only allowed a select number of cases. In 2022, the Lawrence County Public Defender's office did not take on any more cases because they exceeded the required caseload on at least two occassions.


Here is a breakdown of caseloads in July and August 2022

  • Level - 1 - July - 0 August - 0

  • Level - 2 - July - 1 August - 1

  • Level - 3 - July -5 August - 0

  • Level - 4 - July - 0 August - 3

  • Level - 5 - July - 3 August - 6

  • Level - 6 - July 27 August - 48

  • Misdemeanors - July - 10 August - 25

  • Juvenile Delinquent - July - 4 August - 4

  • Juvenile Status - July - 0 August - 0

  • CHNS - July - 4 August - 14

  • Termination of Parental Rights - July - 1 August - 0

  • Appeals - July - 1 August - 0

  • IV - D - July - 2 August - 5

  • Petition to Revoke - July - 29 August - 25

Totals: July -87 August - 131


CHINS cases require 2-3 public defenders on average per case: These counts do include informally resolved cases at initial hearings.


A judge determines whether a defendant needs a public defender. Not everyone is assigned a public defender in a criminal case. The judge will interogate a defendant with a pre-set of questions under the conditions of perjury to determine their ability to pay for an attorney.


According to Sledd the restructure of his office is working.


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