Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Today’s Nichols Update

Posted by Maggie on March 7, 2008

So yesterday was the hearing where we were supposed to find out what’s going to happen to defense counsel. It looks like Judge Bodiford got his way and GPDSC and the defense team have worked out a deal.

The Capital Defenders are allowed to reenter the case. Specifically, Josh Moore, who was previously assigned to Nichols before the conflict, has been added to the team. It also appears that Capital Defenders will be providing administrative support to help reduce outside expenses.

Two other members of the team have accepted changes to their appointments. Attorney Robert McGlasson will change from an hourly fee to a salary similar to the Capital Defenders. And attorney Jacob Sussman, that GPDSC was trying to oust, will be relegated solely to part-time work and will not be present for court proceedings. It looks like everyone’s on board. And it looks like this will lower the expected trial expenses such that they can set a date.

One particular issue of note. Judge Bodiford did not order GPDSC to pay the Nichols team their owed fees right away. Here’s a quote from the order:

The Court is aware that a very significant arrearage exists with respect to past due attorneys’ fees and expenses for the attorneys of Ferguson Stein Chambers and Mr. McGlasson appointed in this case, and the Council has acknowledged that fact. Likewise, the Court is aware that substantial past due amounts are owed to other private lawyers across the State of Georgia who are provided representation indigent defendants, growing out of the current funding crisis besetting the Council. The Court concludes that it is inappropriate to order the Council to pay the past due amounts to attorneys in preference to the past due amounts owed to other appointed counsel throughout the state.

I think this is a wise move by Judge Bodiford. There are a lot of people with outstanding balances that GPDSC needs to pay. And a lot of people already feel like the Nichols case is taking over the system. Hopefully the compromise will work.

There will be another hearing Monday where Judge Bodiford expects to announce a trial date. However, it still looks like keeping that trial date will depend on GPDSC getting the appropriate funding from the legislature.

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