Philly City Council balks at hiring one firm for cases public defenders can’t take

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Philadelphia City Council is among those upset about the Nutter administration’s plan to hire one law firm to handle cases when the public defender can’t.

Those cases are now assigned to many independent attorneys.

When there are multiple defendants or other conflicts in cases involving people who normally would be represented by the public defender, so-called “conflict council” are appointed.

Attorney Jeffrey Lindy, who has received some of this work, says he’s afraid having one firm do it all will be a problem.

“It’s a for-profit firm, so how do you maximize profits on a capped fee, you start doing less work? And I don’t care who is administering that, that’s what’s going to happen,” Lindy said.

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison who spent 22 years as a public defender admits handling the 15,000 to 30,000 cases will not be easy. But he thinks the support attorneys at larger firms have could make a difference.

“This is a process that has been extremely inclusive it has been extremely collegial, and it has been eye-opening as far the level of support that is needed and additional support that is needed in this area,” Gillison said.

The one-year, multi-million dollar contract has not been awarded yet. Councilmembers are urging the Nutter administration to wait.

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