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Gage County approves public defender contract

Gage County approves public defender contract

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The Gage County Board of Supervisors approved a five-year agreement with a public defender during the board’s regular meeting.

The agreement will extend the county’s relationship with Lee Timan, with the firm Nelson, Clark & Timan, P.C., who works as the public defender.

The contract is for $165,000 annually, an increase of $16,000 over the previous agreement.

Board members previously questioned the pay increase at the last meeting, largely pointing out that Timan has a cap of how many felony cases he can be appointed to at one time.

That cap allows Timan to work on a maximum of 40 felonies, so board members questioned why there should be a pay increase when the workload will remain the same.

Stephanie Clark, a fellow attorney at the firm, attended Wednesday’s meeting and said the contract will allow Timan to take more cases, since the way cases are considered.

Previously, if a felony gets reduced to a misdemeanor it would still count toward the 40 limit, as would probation violations and appeals.

Clark said that’s changed, and will ultimately allow Timan to take on more cases.

“Under the new definition of a felony case, if it is a felony that is bound to district court but goes back down to a misdemeanor level, once the person has entered a plea on the misdemeanor it no longer counts,” she said. “None of the motions to revoke probation or appeals count and under the current cap of 40, that would put 13-15 more cases available for Lee to take.”

If Timan is at his maximum level of felony cases other attorneys are hired to represent defendants.

While the agreement should allow Timan to have more felony cases, it doesn’t solve issues working with co-defendants.

If two people are arrested for the same crime, they will be appointed different attorneys to prevent a conflict of interest.

“While we can never get rid of the fact that there will be conflicts… this will get rid of Lee being capped out and unable to take new appointments,” Clark said.

The initial contract proposal was for $165,000 for three years, though the board approved a longer term of five years with members John Hill, Dennis Byars and Gary Lytle voting in favor. Board members Erich Tieman and Eddie Dorn voted no, while Terry Jurgens was absent.

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