WHEREAS, representation of the criminally charged indigent fulfills the highest calling of the legal profession and satisfies the critical constitutional mandate of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution;
WHEREAS, the system employed by the First Judicial District for paying court appointed criminal attorneys historically has not been able to compensate counsel fully in a timely fashion;
WHEREAS, the leadership of the Philadelphia Bar Association, its Criminal Justice Section, its criminal defense bar, the Philadelphia judiciary, court administration and court officials, over the years, have endeavored to address the budgetary issues concerning the City's indigent defense system cooperatively;
WHEREAS, in response to the Court Administration's representation of acute budgetary restrictions, the Criminal Justice Section recommended that court-appointed counsel voluntarily accept a 5% reduction in earned fees in order to conserve funds available to indigent defense counsel fees;
WHEREAS, on March 23, 1995, this Board of Governors adopted the attached resolution, in which the Association's Criminal Justice Section agreed to a 5% reduction in court-appointed counsel fees for an eighteen month period;
WHEREAS, the March 23 resolution provided that in the event intervening conditions required, the Criminal Justice Section and the Association would consider additional appropriate actions to achieve full finding for the system;
WHEREAS, the Criminal Justice Section now believes that despite the voluntary 5% fee reduction, the Court's ability to compensate court-appointed counsel, even at the reduced level, is in jeopardy;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association applauds the criminal defense bar's acceptance of a voluntary 5% reduction in earned fees for defense of indigent clients as fulfilling the finest tradition of the Philadelphia Lawyer.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Association authorizes and encourages the Criminal Justice Section and the leadership of the Association to eliminate the budgetary shortfalls within the Guaranteed Fee System by, among other things:
a. encouraging funding for the indigent defense system at $9.2 million through the current fiscal year with annual increases in funding to address inflation, the increasing indigent population, and other factors which would necessitate additional funding;
b. seeking payment, on an expedited basis, of all outstanding fee petitions;
c. requesting adequate funding for the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Defender Organization; and
d. accelerating cessation of the voluntary 5% fee reductions, if appropriate.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor is authorized to continue to support and assist in these efforts by whatever means the Chancellor deems most appropriate.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: November 16, 1995