Legislature To Address What Iowa Supreme Court Justice Has Called A Crisis In Indigent Defense

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa legislature is poised to raise the pay for attorneys who represent indigent defendants by five dollars an hour. The state budget plan GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have agreed to, for the first time, provide 35 dollars an hour for travel time, as some attorneys drive hours driving around Iowa to court hearings. Jim Carney, a lobbyist for the Iowa Bar Association, calls these moves unprecedented and historic.

According to the Iowa Supreme Court’s chief justice, only six hundred Iowa attorneys are willing to be appointed to represent indigent clients because of the pay and it’s leading to trial delays. Representative Brian Lohse, a Republican from Bondurant, says he’s been hoping to address the issue since he joined the legislature five years ago.

Lohse leads the House panel that’s drafted the budget plan for Iowa’s justice system.



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