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Attorneys for Poor Clients Hard to Find in Some Parts of Kansas

File photo by Stephen Koranda
File photo by Stephen Koranda

There are challenges for the board that organizes representation for Kansas criminal defendants too poor to pay for their own attorneys.

It can be hard to find attorneys willing to work on high-level defense cases for $65 per hour. That’s according to Patricia Scalia, director of the Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services. She says they’re already sometimes seeking attorneys who don’t live near the defendants, requiring a lot of travel.
“We have about exhausted the number of attorneys who are licensed in Kansas. If this continued, it wouldn’t be too much longer before we were having to bring in attorneys from other states,” says Scalia.

Scalia says because of some budget savings they’ve increased the rate they pay to $65 per hour from $62. She says they’ll be asking the state for additional funding because that’s still well below the $80 per hour generally called for in state law.

Stephen Koranda is KPR's Statehouse reporter.