To the editor:
Attorney General Schmidt asked Senate Ways and Means on Thursday for $1.2 million to defend against anticipated legal challenges to four bills recently passed by the Legislature. The legal work would not be done by the A.G.’s office but rather by private attorneys. (For example, see “Kansas AG Schmidt pays $644K to defend state abortion laws,” Journal-World, June 11, 2012.)
During this same hearing, Sen. Jeff Melcher (whose campaign website’s banner says “Jeff Melcher means jobs”) questioned whether $62/hour was too much to pay private attorneys who take court appointments representing indigent defendants charged by the state of Kansas with felonies — representation guaranteed by our state and U.S. constitutions. He said he has seen attorneys working in restaurants and so he thinks there are people out there who would do it for less. He said it is time for the market to decide.
Melcher voted yes on all four of these bills that expose our state to constitutional challenges. I hope Melcher makes sure the market decides whom to hire and how much to pay them when it comes time to defend against lawsuits relating to these bills. Hopefully Sen. Melcher will propose that the hourly rate be capped at $62. Perhaps our attorney general can round up attorneys working in restaurants and retain them to defend our state’s laws, thereby creating jobs and saving our tax dollars from the hourly rates that are probably in excess of four times that amount paid in defending prior lawsuits.