City Watch Hits Flat-Fee Juvenile Defense Issue

The City Watch website is posting a story about the flat-fee juvenile defense system. At issue is how attorneys representing indigent youth are paid. The story by Gary Cohn is making the rounds as activists try to apply heat to officials who control the system.
Cohn writes that “… the problem is particularly serious in Los Angeles County, one of the world’s largest juvenile justice systems, where a controversial low-bid, flat fee compensation system for attorneys representing certain indigent youth raises systemic due process concerns. Under that system, contract attorneys — such as the one who represented Antonio, are paid an astonishingly low fee of $300 to $350 per case, regardless of whether the case involves shoplifting or murder. This is in a city where private lawyers are costly. Criminal defense attorney fees in Los Angeles can easily exceed $500 an hour.”
He also reports that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 11 voted unanimously to study the issue of panel attorneys’ compensation and other issues involving the county’s juvenile defense system. A series of recommendations is expected to be presented to the board this spring. 
Read the report, which also appears on, here.