APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT
Department of Corrections, Appellant; William A.
Nos. 5-86-0481, 5-86-0482 cons.
514 N.E.2d 1213, 162 Ill. App. 3d 212, 113 Ill. Dec. 202 1987.IL.1535
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Randolph County; the Hon. Carl H. Becker, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE WELCH delivered the opinion of the court. KARNS, P.J., and HARRISON, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WELCH
The State appeals from the circuit court of Randolph County's order granting attorney William A. Schuwerk, Jr., $60 per hour for his work in the consolidated causes of People v. Hill and People v. Ashford. The State raises the issue of whether the $60 per hour is a reasonable attorney's fee for the defense of indigent criminal defendants in these consolidated cases. This court affirms.
On September 10, 1985, the trial court appointed Schuwerk as counsel for Cordell Hill and, on December 16, 1985, appointed Schuwerk as counsel for Anthony Ashford. Both Ashford and Hill were inmates at the Menard Correctional Center. Schuwerk expended seven hours preparing for the Hill case, which was subsequently dismissed. Schuwerk also expended seven hours in the Ashford case. After negotiations with the State, Ashford pleaded guilty. Since it is well established under section 3-6-5 of the Unified Code of Corrections that the Illinois Department of Corrections is required to pay the expense of prosecution of persons committed to its custody (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 1003-6-5), Schuwerk filed, on March 20, 1986, a petition for fees in both Ashford and Hill pursuant to section 113-3(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 113-3(c)). The trial court held a hearing on Schuwerk's petition and heard the State's only objection concerning Schuwerk's hourly rate of $60.
At the hearing, the trial court made the following assessment of Schuwerk's requested hourly rate. The trial court stated that he has heard numerous petitions for attorney fees over 20 years. He has heard "week after week from that witness stand that [$60 an hour] is the standard, going rate in this area of the state." The court further stated that there were records in that court revealing that the State of Illinois has paid $60 an hour. The trial court also stated that the State's position "is just absolutely ridiculous when we have a bar of this county of about 10 or 12 men who are expected to come in and represent prisoner after prisoner after prisoner." The trial court also noted that the county had the largest prison in the State and that the largest law firm in the county represents the State of Illinois. The attorneys for the State are not available to represent the defendants.
At the hearing, the following facts were adduced. Since Schuwerk had been the Randolph County State's Attorney prior to returning to private practice, the court at first would not appoint him to any cases. Eventually, the trial court appointed Schuwerk to the Ashford and Hill cases. During the pendency of the Ashford and Hill cases, the trial court again appointed Schuwerk to two more cases; however, one case was taken away from Schuwerk because of an alleged conflict of interest. Schuwerk stated that he charges a flat fee of $60 an hour for both civil and criminal cases whether or not he is in court or out of court. On more complex criminal cases, Schuwerk states that he requests a retainer fee of $1,500. At the end of the hearing, the trial court found that the $60 per hour was a reasonable fee based upon the size of the local bar, the number of appointments per year for each attorney in the local bar, the number of cases from Menard, and the expertise of and the present number of appointments Schuwerk has. From this order, the State appeals.
The State argues that the $60 per hour for attorney fees is unreasonable. The State relies on this court's recent case of In re Petition for Fees (1986), 148 Ill. App. 3d 453, 499 N.E.2d 624. However, the State's reliance is misplaced.
In Jones, this court held that the attorney was entitled to an award of fees at an hourly rate of $35 for services performed out of court and $45 for services performed in court plus expenses. The attorney had petitioned for $50 per hour plus expenses for the time spent on defense of a defendant charged with murder. In determining whether those fees were reasonable this court followed the ...