Governor Patrick Reforms Indigent Defense

Governor Deval Patrick, in his recently submitted budget, proposes to save some $40 million dollars by overhauling the way the Commonwealth provides lawyers for indigent defendants. Currently the Commonwealth utilizes the services of about three thousand private contract lawyers to provide legal counsel to those who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers. This bill has been about $160 million annually, and has also been a real sore point with the District Attorneys, who have maintained that the defense bar is seeing budget increases at a time when their own budgets are being cut. The Governor proposes to hire one thousand lawyers and support staff to bring this function back “in house”. His estimate is that the savings will be over $40 million, and that number is reflected in his proposed budget. It is fair to say that the defense bar, seeing that $160 million dollars disappear, will put up a strenuous fight against the Governor in the Legislature. It appears to me that the Governor suspects that the private lawyers are doing some “bill padding”. This is his way of getting his arm around those costs while addressing the concerns of the state’s District Attorneys. The Globe seems to think it is a good idea. Read their support editorial here.

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2 Responses to Governor Patrick Reforms Indigent Defense

  1. Barbara O'Brien says:

    Dear Bill,

    My name is Barbara O’Brien and I am a political blogger. Just had a question about your blog and couldn’t find an email—please get back to me as soon as you can (barbaraobrien(at)



  2. Summer Lindstrom says:

    This is a really great idea. Anyone who has to deal with the court system should be in favor of this change. The savings are substantial. The District Attorney raises a good question when he sites the state paying more for private counsel than the state does on prosecution.


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