YOUNGSTOWN Working on plan to pay attorneys
The county will pay all indigent defense bills and seek repayment from the city.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- City council and Mahoning County commissioners are working out a plan to simplify the way court-appointed lawyers in Youngstown Municipal Court are paid.
"It's just a procedural, bookkeeping matter," said county Administrator Gary Kubic.
A state audit of the city's financial books for 1999 showed that the county should reimburse the city $15,400 for lawyers fees. Court and county officials said at the time that the money hadn't been paid because the city had not submitted a bill.
And a bill had not been turned in because there was no procedure in place for tracking payment of attorney fees, said Judge Robert Milich, municipal court's administrative judge.
Separate jurisdictions: The county is supposed to pay for court-appointed lawyers who represent indigent defendants charged with violating state laws, while the city is to pay for those charged with violating city ordinances, Kubic and Judge Milich said.
In the past, the two have gotten shuffled together and the city has ended up paying part of the county's share, resulting in audit findings, the judge said.
A policy being considered for passage by city council should end the problem.
Judge Milich said if the policy is approved, the county will pay all fees for lawyers appointed to represent poor people in municipal court, then seek reimbursement from the city.
"We're just trying to get some standards and procedures in place," Judge Milich said, noting that the plan was recommended by the state auditor's office and the Ohio Public Defender's Office.
Kubic said that the county will pay the $15,400 bill and that having a policy in place should ensure that such a problem does not arise again.