Broward Judge Overturned In Decision To Lower Attorney’s Fees Over Budget Concerns

The 4th District Court of Appeal on Wednesday [March 14] quashed a Broward circuit judge’s decision to pay a criminal defense attorney $13.33 an hour for two extended cases he took to trial. Circuit Judge Matthew Destry awarded attorney fees of $20,000 for 1,500 billable hours, or about one-sixth of the standard set in state law. He said his decision resulted from concerns that the cash-strapped state did not have the money. However, the appeals court ruled worries about whether the state has enough money to pay reasonable attorney fees is not a matter for the courts to consider without violating the separation of powers doctrine. The appeals court quickly addressed the issue raised by defense attorney Ira W. Still. Destry issued his order Jan. 9. Still’s petition was filed Feb. 15 and the state responded Feb. 17 along with Robert Buschel on behalf of the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which supported Still. [Subscription required.]

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