A long time ago, I was engaged in a "blog-iscussion" about the meaning of indigence and the guidelines for determining indigence. I remember it, because this morning I read this story out of North Carolina.
Apparently, in N.C., there are no specific guidelines for determining indigence (and access to PD services), other than saying "I am unable to afford an attorney".
For example, when Larry D. Lintner, 56, of Raleigh was charged with embezzling money from the chemical company BASF, he swore he was too poor to afford a lawyer. He has two cars worth $4,000, an $8,000 checking account balance, nearly $100,000 of equity in his $250,000 house and $60,000 in a retirement account.
Still, a district court judge agreed to appoint Durham’s public defender to represent Lintner.
The state of NC spent 85.5 million last year for indigent defense. The money covered about 270,000 cases. By contrast, in CT (with an established PD system and guidelines for indigency), the state spent 34 million. Interestingly, in NC, the pd’s office does not receive or review the affidavits filed by defendants claiming to be indigent. They might want to rethink that one. Here, the pd’s office conducts an indigency evaluation and if found indigent, they represent the individual. Perhaps taking people at their word leads to spending 50 million more per year.
For more on indigency and guidelines, click on "pd system" below.