COURT APPOINTMENT FEE REDUCTION TO FUND GUARANTEED FEE SYSTEM
 
WHEREAS, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania is in a zero growth budget for a period of six years, which is projected to cease with the 1997 budget;

WHEREAS, fees paid to court-appointed counsel are part of the overall budget of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania;

WHEREAS, the amount of money being appropriated for court- appointed counsel fees in the budget of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania is insufficient to satisfy the financial demands of payment for the services of court-appointed counsel;

WHEREAS, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania is fulfilling its obligation to meet those demands by realizing savings in other facets of its budget;

WHEREAS, the current appropriation for court-appointed counsel is $6.6 million for fiscal 1996 and the projected expenditures are likely to fall somewhere between $9 and $9.3 million;

WHEREAS, the amount budgeted for court-appointed counsel fees for fiscal 1997 is $7.4 million with a projected expenditure of $9.6 million;

WHEREAS, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania has asked the private criminal defense bar to assist it in making up the budget deficit over the next two years;

WHEREAS, the First Judicial District is seeking other sources of revenue to make up this deficit in addition to the assistance requested of the private criminal defense bar;

WHEREAS, the Guaranteed Fee System (GFS) was the product of a joint good faith undertaking between the bar, bench, and court administration;

WHEREAS, the GFS has been in effect for over one and a half years and has been viewed as a success by virtually all the attorneys who receive payment under that system;

WHEREAS, the continued viability of the GFS is at issue during the course of the First Judicial District's budget crisis; and

WHEREAS, court administration is willing to seriously consider and work toward the establishment of upgrade for court-appointed counsel, commencing with the fiscal 1998 budget (July 1, 1997) and continuing thereafter, in return for assistance in solving the current court budgetary problems, which upgrades include:

(a) a system of automatic increases to the preparation fee, through a cost of living adjustment mechanism;

(b) an increase in the juvenile court preparation fee;

(c) an increase in the non-homicide preparation fee;

(d) an increase by $10.00 per hour in the appellate fees paid;

WHEREAS, the private criminal defense bar understands that there are no guarantees as to the First Judicial District's ability to deliver any or all of these adjustments to the GFS, but understands that the First Judicial District will make every effort in good faith and in the spirit of cooperation in which the GFS was created to do so;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Criminal Justice Section agrees that all court-appointed fee petitions will be reduced by an amount of five percent for appointments made on or after a date to be set by the Board of Judges of the First Judicial District and continuing thereafter for a period not to exceed eighteen months;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this decision to reduce by five percent the above fee petitions will be reviewed at six month intervals and, if it is found that the First Judicial District budgetary crisis does not warrant the reduction, said reduction will be removed;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in no way will this five percent reduction extend beyond eighteen months and the First Judicial District will not seek a further reduction or a continuation of a reduction to solve any budgetary crisis that may appear in the future;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the willingness of court-appointed counsel to agree to a five percent reduction in legal fees is expressly made in consideration for the First Judicial District commitment to work in good faith toward the above enumerated upgrades to the GFS.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: March 23, 1995