"You have the Right to an Attorney, But It Might Cost You"

SADO Assistant Defender and her client featured in The Nation

An article in the October 30 issue of The Nation features Assistant Defender Mayo Menlo and her work to challenge the attorney fees imposed against her client, Joshua Sedgeman.

Before trial, the trial court had determined that Mr. Sedgeman could not afford a lawyer, but later, at sentencing, the court required him to pay $21,000 for the cost of his defense. The Court of Appeals found this to be an error. In remanding the case, the Court explained that "it should be obvious . . . that when an indigent criminal defense system determines a litigant is totally indigent, neither the system nor the trial court ought to include an assessment of attorney’s fees."

The Nation article discusses this and other cases, explaining that "approximately 40 states allow courts to charge indigent defendants for the use of a public defender or court- appointed counsel." You can read the full article at this link, and an in-depth report about public defense system fees at this link.