Central Ohio Technical College banner ad

Commissioners continue discussion about appointed counsel fees

| October 14, 2019

COSHOCTON – The Coshocton County Commissioners continued their discussion about appointed counsel fees at their Oct. 9 meeting.

On Oct. 2 the commissioners met with Coshocton County Public Defender Jeffrey Mullen about possibly raising the county’s rates. Coshocton County currently charges $60 for time in court and $50 for out of court costs. The public defender’s office association has recommended counties move to $75 an hour. The commissioners asked Judge Robert Batchelor from Coshocton County Common Pleas Court and Judge Van Blanchard from the court’s probate and juvenile division to share their thoughts on the topic.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to find attorneys,” Batchelor said. “I think it would help if we at least stay competitive with surrounding counties. We are underserved in our county in regards to attorneys. I don’t have any in the county who would take a felony criminal defense appointment.”

Court Administrator Doug Schonauer, who attended in Blanchard’s place, said he in general agreed with Batchelor.

“We pull attorneys from other counties and you have to be competitive to attract them,” Schonauer said.

He said the counties they pull attorneys from the most often are Tuscarawas, Licking and Muskingum. Batchelor added that some also come from Holmes County. He also stated that it would be nice to standardize the fee for in and out of court costs.

“We have to remember though that this is all about the right to council,” Batchelor said. “It is in the constitution.”

Commissioner Curtis Lee was appreciative of both of them coming to the meeting.

“We wanted to meet with everyone involved and give them the opportunity to share what they thought we should do or if we should do anything,” Lee said.

Blanchard was able to attend later in the meeting and said they haven’t had a problem attracting good attorneys yet, but could see that happening at some point. He believes that with an increase in reimbursement that they may see from the state they may be able to spread out the impact of an increase in counsel rates.

Mary Beck, the commissioners’ administrator/clerk, checked with Judge Tim France from municipal court to see what his thoughts were.

“He doesn’t have the issue that other judges have, but said whatever the commissioners do he will be in full support of,” she said.

The commissioners can change the fee if and when they decide it is necessary.

During the meeting they also:

  • Requested a motion to sign a contract and notice to proceed with William Albert Inc. for the Tuscarawas Township Storm Drainage Improvement Project in the amount of $449,490.

“The drainage there now is not adequate,” Lee said. “It can’t take care of water with any kind of speed. This will be a replacement/upgrade to the system already there.”

Category: Government

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

Comments are closed.