Public Defender pact on Clallam County commissioners’ agenda today

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners today will consider renewing an agreement with the Clallam Public Defender for indigent defense representation in Superior Court, District Court and Juvenile Court.

No commissioner objected to a revised, two-year agreement when it was discussed in a work session Monday.

The renewed pact with the Port Angeles-based nonprofit incorporates state-mandated case limits that were approved by county ordinance Dec. 17.

Based on anticipated caseloads, the county will pay Clallam Public Defender $848,273 this year and slightly more in 2015.

A cost of living allowance derived from the Seattle-Bremerton consumer price index, or CPI, will be added to next year’s total.

County Administrator Jim Jones said the same cost of living allowance, based on 90 percent of CPI from a 12-month period starting each June, was approved in each of the last several years.

Last year’s contract with Clallam Pubic Defender totaled $839,210 — or $9,063 less than this year’s estimated amount.

The county panel will consider approving a revised agreement at 10 a.m. today in room 160 of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St. Minor changes were made to the contact after it was first discussed on Jan. 6.

Meanwhile, the ordinance for indigent defense standards that the county approved last month limits the number of cases a public defender may be assigned in a given year.

The state rules do not limit the number of hours a public defender can spend on a case.

“The attorney will spend as much time as is necessary to properly represent the client,” Clallam Public Defender Harry Gasnick wrote in a Dec. 18 email.

“What is reduced is the number of additional cases the attorney may accept.”

The ordinance includes a case weighting formula for certain type of cases.

For example, a probation violation in juvenile court that takes an attorney less than 5 hours to handle will count as one-third of a full case.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 13. 2014 6:42PM
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