Bill by Hill could help Indigent Defender Fund

By By John Guidroz / American Press

The House Judiciary Committee approved a

measure on Thursday that would allow mayors in DeQuincy, Iowa, Vinton

and Westlake

to raise court costs for offenses like traffic violations, with

some of that money going to the 14th Judicial District’s Indigent

Defender Fund.

House Bill 112, by Rep. Dorothy Sue

Hill, D-Dry Creek, would allow the mayors to raise court costs by $20

for each offense,

with $10 going to the court’s Indigent Defender Fund. The measure

heads to the full House for consideration. The current court

costs are $30 for each offense.

Cade Cole, city magistrate for DeQuincy

and Vinton town attorney, said the legislation addresses the funding

crisis in the

Calcasieu Public Defender’s Office. He said it is an attempt to

prevent private lawyers from being appointed to handle cases

for free. The four municipalities listed in the bill are exempt

from any current fee to the PDO, Cole said.

Cole said Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier supports the bill. He said the Calcasieu Police Jury has agreed to reduce

the cost of its office space to assist with the funding issue.

“It’s kind of a team effort across local government to try and help them out with some of their problems,” he said.

If approved, the ability to increase those court costs would become “null and void” in August 2016.