Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/28/1996 12:35 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
       SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 370(JUD)                            
       "An  Act relating to the provision of legal services at                 
  public    expense."                                                          
  Representative  Terry   Martin  was  invited   to  join  the                 
  committee  and testified on  behalf of the bill.    The bill                 
  was  initiated  last  fall  that  indicated a  problem  with                 
  individuals  who  were financially  able  to  secure private                 
  counsel making use of counsel at public expense.  There were                 
  some ambiguities as to when and  at what time public counsel                 
  could defend an individual.   This legislation was suggested                 
  to clear up this confusion.  A person would be classified as                 
  indigent through the  Court System  rather than through  the                 
  Public Defender  Agency and  it will  be done  at the  first                 
  Court appearance.  He  referred to the zero fiscal  note and                 
  said outside  the public  defender's office everyone  seemed                 
  happy with the bill.                                                         
  Daniella  Loper was  invited  to join  the  committee.   She                 
  explained  the difference  between the  two (JUD)  versions.                 
  This regarded the  definition of "indigency" and said it was                 
  removed so it would not cost the Court System a fiscal note.                 
  Co-chairman Halford  said the  Court System  was working  on                 
  this bill also.  Senator Rieger referred to page 2, line 4.                  
  Arthur Snowden, Alaska Court System  was invited to join the                 
  committee.  He said in the House (JUD) version the indigency                 
  determination would have  to be  made on the  record at  the                 
  time of  arraignment.   The problem  arose due  to the  fact                 
  there are approximately 22,000 arraignments in Anchorage and                 
  9,000 arraignments in Fairbanks, and four or five new judges                 
  would have  been needed  to take  care of  arraignments.   A                 
  committee  has  been  created  to  come  up  with  a tighter                 
  indigency definition.  Senator Frank  asked if the committee                 
  was also looking  at an individual  risking jail time had  a                 
  right to  court appointed  attorney if  they were  indigent.                 
  Mr.  Snowden  said  yes because  this  was  a constitutional                 
  right.  Under  a federal ruling  the U.S. Supreme Court  has                 
  ruled than any indigent  defendant facing imprisonment, loss                 
  of  a valuable  license  or heavy  enough  fine to  indicate                 
  criminality has a right to counsel.   Senator Frank asked if                 
  a defendant facing three days in jail was also covered under                 
  this ruling and Mr. Snowden said it did not matter what case                 
  the U.S.  Supreme Court  had looked  at because  this was  a                 
  blanket ruling.                                                              
  Ms. Loper referred to the definition  of a serious crime and                 
  said this falls  under representation by a  public defender.                 
  There  was  further  discussion  between  members  regarding                 
  retention of a public defender.                                              
  (tape switch to side 2)                                                      
  Mr. Snowden said this bill would stop pre-appointment of the                 
  public defender as now an individual  would have to wait for                 
  Court appointment.   The  Court System has  no problem  with                 
  this bill.                                                                   
  Senator Frank  moved SCS CSHB  370(JUD) and it  was reported                 
  out with  individual recommendations and  zero fiscal  notes                 
  for   Department   of   Administration/OPA;  Department   of                 
  Administration/PDA and the Alaska Court System.                              

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