The Tennessee Supreme Court, acting on recommendations from its Indigent Representation Task Force, is taking action to reform the states method for providing legal assistance to individuals who are unable to afford an attorney.
The task force confirmed what many of us already suspected: The system needs major reforms, said Chief Justice Jeff Bivins. While no perfect solution exists, the Court believes the improvements we commit to today will move the state toward a more efficient, effective means of providing this representation that our federal and state constitutions guarantee.
Some of these changes require legislation that the Court will be supporting in the 2018 legislative session. In addition, the Court intends to make changes to several state court rules that govern how attorneys are compensated, provided the governor and state legislators approve the requested funding.
One key change is an increase in the amount attorneys are paid to work on such cases, a compensation rate that has not changed in 20 years. The Court will seek funding to increase the rates to $65 per hour, from the current $40 per hour for work outside court and $50 hourly for time spent in court. Additionally, current rules cap compensation on most cases at $1,000 ...