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Public defender contract attorneys appeal rate reduction

September 6, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Attorneys who contract with the Montana Office of the State Public Defender to represent indigent defendants are asking the state Supreme Court to rule in their case seeking to reinstate payment rates reduced during budget cuts.

The Independent Record reported Friday that two contract attorneys filed an appeal after a district judge ruled against them in their lawsuit seeking to raise their rates rom $56 an hour back to $62 an hour.

The lawyers sued the public defender’s office and Gov. Steve Bullock in May 2018 after their rates dropped because of the budget cuts. The reduction is forecast to save $1.2 million.

The attorneys say the government can’t change the terms of a public contract just to save money.

District Judge Kathy Seeley ruled in June that the fee reduction was not a breach of contract.

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Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com

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