James v. Strange

LOCATION: Circuit Court of Cook County, Juvenile Division

DOCKET NO.: 71-11
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 407 US 128 (1972)
ARGUED: Mar 22, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1972

Edward G. Collister, Jr. - for appellants
John E. Wilkinson - for appellee

Facts of the case


Media for James v. Strange

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1972 in James v. Strange

Warren E. Burger:

Next in number 71-11, James against Strange.

Mr. Collister, You may proceed whenever you are ready.

Edward G. Collister, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is one of those cases that in attempting to characterize what you are doing to your colleagues back in the office, you have a little bit of difficulty identifying exactly what it is because I hate to refer to it as the Strange case.

What it is, is a direct appeal from the Three-Judge Court sitting in the District of Kansas which declared unconstitutional and enjoined the future enforcement of a statute passed by the 1979 Kansas legislature.

The statute involved, KSA 1971 sub 22-4513 is a part of the Aid to Indigent Defenders Act passed in that year by that legislature.

I think what happened to generate the passage of the entire Act was that the confusion that existed with regard to the manner and method of not only determination of indigency for the purposes of appointing counsel in criminal cases, but also the method of payment of counsel and some fashion caused the legislature to pass a rather comprehensive Act and that Act provides for the establishment of a Board of Supervisors to govern the administrative work of the system which is administered directly by the State's Judicial Administrator, Mr. James.

The Board of Supervisors is authorized to cause to be accumulated a panel of attorneys in the various districts and to formulate rules and regulations for the implementation of the Act.

Once the panel of attorneys is formulated, any district judge or magistrate may rely on any attorney on that panel for providing counsel to those who he finds indigent and requiring counsel.

The challenged portion of the Act provides that when any expense has been advanced or paid by the state on behalf of somebody who has been found to be indigent, the state is allowed an opportunity to cause repayment to -- at least be attempt a procedure that is used in 4513, a repayment statute, is that the judicial administrator causes a notice to be sent to the person upon whose behalf the expenditure was made.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

May I ask what was the expense embraced?

Edward G. Collister, Jr.:

The expense can embrace any amount of money expended under the Act for the provision of counsel.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Hold it right there, is there a fee provided for counsel?

Edward G. Collister, Jr.:

Is it set by the Act?

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Or is there anything in counsel, are they awarded fees?

Edward G. Collister, Jr.:

They are awarded fees.

Currently what -- no I should not say currently because this has been true through the history of the Act, each year the judicial administrator on behalf of the Supreme Court proposes a budget to the State Legislature which appropriates the money to fund the indigent program.

His estimate is really a guess, at least it was to start with, so in any event the money is appropriated, then the Board of Supervisors which includes the Judicial Administrator and a Justice of the State Supreme Court determine rates of compensation.

Currently the rates are figured at about $15 to $20 an hour.

$15 an hour for out of court time and $20 an hour for in court time with a maximum of $500 in any case not involving a sentence of a life imprisonment or death.

In another words for practical purposes everything, but a capital case.

Also the statute authorizes the expenditure of funds to provide defense services, let us say an investigator, I would assume the transcripts would be included although I have no state decision controlling it one way or another, perhaps experts, fax or anything that the state is authorized to initially provide on the indigent defendant's behalf under the act which covers the criminal trial, the post conviction, the collateral attack, the appeal stages of the proceedings.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

This are direct outlets.

Now they do not include any overhead for the administration of the program.

Edward G. Collister, Jr.:

I am not sure that I quite understand.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well I gather to understand that the administrator's and it's program --

Edward G. Collister, Jr.:

I am sorry, the program is administered by the Judicial administrator who does not receive any direct compensation for performing that portion of his job through the Aid Indigents Defenders fund.W

hatever staff he has is funded separately.

There are no additional employees to my knowledge.

Potter Stewart:

They are employees of the state however?