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In Re Petition For Fees

OPINION FILED AUGUST 30, 1983.

IN RE PETITION FOR FEES — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF AND PETITIONER-APPELLANT,

v.

CLARENCE EUGENE WILSON, DEFENDANT — (MICHAEL C. GOODE ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES)).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Richard J. Cadagin, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

A question of fees.

For a court-appointed attorney, a lawyer who argued a motion, and an investigator.

We affirm — but modify slightly.

In 1970, the police chief of Oblong, Illinois, was shot and mortally wounded while investigating a burglary in process. Clarence Eugene Wilson and two other men were indicted for the offenses of burglary, intentional murder, and felony murder. Wilson was brought to trial five separate times on one or more of the above charges with the fifth trial resulting in an acquittal. The present appeals relate to fees which were awarded by the trial court to those who participated in Wilson's defense during his fifth trial.

Prior to the trial, attorney Michael Goode, who was representing Wilson in a civil rights action in Federal court, requested to be appointed as defense counsel for Wilson. The trial court denied the request but granted Goode permission to argue a motion to dismiss on behalf of Wilson and to submit a petition for fees. Goode sought $2,352.47 in fees based on 45 hours of work at $50 per hour and expenses of $102.47. The trial court granted attorney fees to Goode in the amount of $1,012.47.

D. Bradley Blodgett was appointed to represent Wilson on May 7, 1982. On July 8, 1982, four weeks prior to the trial, the trial court granted Wilson's request to proceed pro se and, from that time forward, Blodgett served as Wilson's legal advisor. Blodgett's petition for fees sought $11,368.15 based on 277.8 hours of work at $35 per hour and expenses of $1,645.15. The trial court awarded Blodgett $9,761.40.

Charles Neuf, a private investigator hired by Blodgett, petitioned for fees in the amount of $6,858.84. The trial court awarded Neuf $5,089.90.

The State appeals from the orders awarding fees to Goode, Blodgett and Neuf. Blodgett has cross-appealed from the order insofar as it denied the entire amount sought in his petition.

CAUSE No. 82-0706

The State argues that Goode is entitled to no compensation whatsoever because he was not appointed by the trial court to represent Wilson.

• 1 Section 113-3(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 113-3(c)) provides for the payment of a "reasonable fee" to the court-appointed counsel of an indigent defendant. No provision is made for the payment of fees to those other than court-appointed counsel. However, our supreme court has recognized that appointed counsel may be compensated for time spent and services rendered by his associates, law clerks or paralegals. (See People v. Johnson (1981), 87 Ill.2d 98, 106, 429 N.E.2d 497, 500.) It has been held that court-appointed counsel may be compensated for work performed by associates or law clerks when the work performed is necessary for the preparation of the defendant's case and consistent with the appointed counsel's primary obligation to defend. People v. Atkinson (1977), 50 Ill. App.3d 860, 366 N.E.2d 94.

• 2 The State does not contend that the work performed by Goode was either unnecessary or inconsistent with defense counsel's obligation to defend. Consequently, if Goode had performed his work as an associate of Blodgett, there is little question that Blodgett would have been entitled to a reasonable fee based on Goode's work. Still, it is not the nature of the work alone that determines whether an attorney is entitled to a reasonable fee. Court-appointed counsel is entitled to compensation not merely because he provided services to an indigent defendant but also because he was, in fact, appointed by the trial court. In the present case, while Goode was not appointed by the trial court to represent defendant, he was granted leave by the court to appear on defendant's behalf and argue a motion to dismiss. For his services, which were authorized by the trial court and were both necessary for the preparation of defendant's case and consistent with appointed counsel's duty to defend, Goode was entitled to a reasonable fee.

The trial court's award of attorney fees to ...


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