- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that paying flat fees to contract attorneys representing indigent defendants does not rob them of their constitutional rights.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (https://bit.ly/1VBQqBv ) that in the opinion released Thursday the court wrote that flat fees are acceptable in lieu of an hourly rate.

Gary Mitchell, the Ruidoso lawyer who represented the defendant whose case was the subject of the Supreme Court’s opinion, says he is disappointed with the decision. He says he earned about $3 an hour while working the case.

The state Public Defender’s Office has argued that it doesn’t have enough money to provide adequate defense for the accused criminals it represents. Top level compensation is $700 for a first-degree felony case, a small sum compared to what an attorney could charge a private client.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com


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