Henry County will likely soon be increasing the amount it pays for indigent defense cases.
The Henry County commissioners met with Henry County Common Pleas Court Judge John Collier and Henry County Family Court Judge Denise McColley Tuesday morning to discuss the issue.
The county currently pays $50 per hour to defense attorneys for out-of-court cases, and $60 per hour in court. This is paid for defendants unable to provide for their own defense. The state reimburses the county for the fee, but until recently that reimbursement has been less than 50%.
“If you look at our 10-year average, it’s more like 29%,” said Henry County Commissioner Glenn Miller.
Recently, however, the state has budgeted more money toward the reimbursements, and last month the reimbursement was at 80%.
This has led surrounding counties to raise the amount they pay for indigent defense, and the Henry County judges felt they needed to do so in order to have defense attorneys available.
Both said prior to the increase they were already having trouble finding enough defense attorneys qualified and willing to take indigent defense cases.
“I’ve had three attorneys ask me when ours was going to go up,” Collier said.
Indigent defense payments in the area now range from $75 to $85 per hour.
The commissioners need to pass a resolution to make it official, but Miller and Commissioner Tom VonDeylen both agreed Tuesday it should happen. Commission Bob Hastedt was not at the meeting.
The payment increase likely would take effect Feb. 1.