Highest Compensated

MEMORANDUM

To:                       Appointed Counsel/Circuit Court Judges
From:                  Dana F. Eddy, Executive Director
                             West Virginia Public Defender Services
Subject:             Highest Compensated Panel Attorneys
Date:                   August 14, 2013 

          In its Report to the Legislature dated January 15, 2009, the Indigent Defense Commission, created pursuant to the provisions of W. Va. Code §29-21-3b, made the following recommendation:  

Public Defender Services should devise a system to alert judges to private counsel billings which appear to be consistently higher than average. 

Id., p. 2. The on-line voucher system enables Public Defender Services to monitor the billing submissions by appointed counsel and to “red flag” submissions that may require further review. The use of the system will be made mandatory. The use of this system in this manner will be the primary mechanism by which the recommended alerts to the circuit court judges or other judicial officers will be generated.  

          Historically, a “Top Billers” list has been prepared, listing the one hundred attorneys who, during the fiscal year, submitted vouchers that, in total, represent the highest requests for compensation. The list does not, however, constitute an alert. The list merely states the identity of those panel attorneys who, among the seven hundred and thirty-three appointed counsel on the statewide panels, have requested the highest amount of compensation. Simply, inclusion on the list is not an indictment of the identified attorney. 

           However, the information is relevant to the purposes of this agency and does make transparent the expenditure of the state’s general revenue in the provision of indigent defense services. Accordingly, the list shall be continued in a modified format. The list will identify the one hundred attorneys who have submitted vouchers for the highest amount of total compensation. The list will further identify the ten service providers who have submitted vouchers for the highest amount of compensation. The names shall be listed in descending order of the amount of compensation requested and, alternatively, in alphabetical order. The historical billings of the attorneys shall be also set forth and the average billing per case shall be calculated.

          Again, the list merely facilitates public scrutiny of the agency’s expenditure of the money which is appropriated for the purpose of indigent defense. However, if questions are raised by the information that is provided, you are encouraged to contact this office.