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Ruling Requires Defendant to Pay for His Own Representation

By FindLaw Staff on March 01, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In US v. Wilson, No. 08-6229, the Sixth Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's judgment ordering a defendant, acquitted of wire fraud and aiding and abetting false statements on another's tax returns, to pay $52,305 in monthly payments for costs of a public services defender.

As stated in the decision: "The court learned that Wilson had been staying at the 'historic Brown hotel' in downtown Louisville throughout the trial, at a cost of roughly $10,000, after turning down the government's offer of free accommodations.  Further inquiry revealed that, by early 2007, Wilson was not a traditional candidate for free legal services:  His income in 2007 totaled roughly $134,000; he lived in an exclusive section of San Francisco, where he paid $2300 per month in rent; he has no dependents; his discretionary income in 2007 allowed him to spend at least $18,000 on the kinds of restaurants and wineries not known for catering to indigents; and Wilson's friends had created a $44,000 fund to pay for his legal services in the case."

Thus, under the Criminal Justice Act, the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering the defendant to pay for legal services. Or, as the court put it, "[h]appily for Wilson, the [defender's] fee was worth it, as he was acquitted on all charges. Unhappily for Wilson, the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering him to pay for the representation."

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