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WV public defender agency pulls back on rate cut

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The head of West Virginia’s Public Defender Services last week rescinded the “emergency guidelines” set to take effect today, which would have cut the amount attorneys taking court-appointed cases are reimbursed for their time.

A formal notice was filed alerting Dana Eddy and other state officials that a handful of lawyers that take court-appointed cases would sue over the guidelines. The notice also said that the lawsuit will ask the state Supreme Court to raise the current rate of pay, which attorneys argue is unconstitutionally low.

Charleston attorney Anthony Majestro said last week that despite withdrawing the emergency guidelines, he will go forward with the petition for a writ of mandamus asking for the pay rates to be increased.

In an email Thursday, Eddy wrote that, “Due to the amount of the request for a supplemental appropriation that has been submitted to the Legislature, Public Defender Services is withdrawing the Emergency Guidelines that were issued on the date of December 18, 2015.”

Eddy, executive director of PDS, had said the guidelines were necessary after realizing there isn’t enough money to reimburse lawyers who submitted vouchers after Sept. 16.

If the new guidelines would have taken effect, attorneys no longer would have been reimbursed for mileage and would have been compensated $20 an hour for travel time…

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