For the first time in decades, court-appointed lawyers who represent the poorest clients will get a raise.
The raise from $60 to $100 dollars an hour would apply only to major crimes that take hundreds of attorney hours, like capital murder, and felonious sexual assault. The maximum fee cap for those crimes will also increase from $4,100 to $8,000.
Usually, indigent defendants are assigned staff attorneys with the nonprofit New Hampshire Public Defender. When those lawyers have a conflict of interest, the court appoints a contract attorney. Chris Keating heads up the New Hampshire Judicial Council, which is responsible for those contracts.
“When lawyers take these appointed cases they are losing money every hour that they handle one of these cases,” says Keating."
For that reason, Keating says, the risk is too high for private attorneys to take on cases that are very time consuming. This raise still wouldn’t compete with private sector rates, but Keating says it will make it easier for the state to contract attorneys for time-consuming cases.