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City looks at flex plan for public defender

Sun Advocate publisher

Some months Price City public defender Sam Chiara gets enough money from the city to cover all the clients he gets handed by the courts to defend.

Other months, particularly lately, the number of clients vastly outnumber the dollars awarded for the job.

On March 14 the Price City Council decided to give City Attorney Nick Sampinos flexibility on what to pay Chiara, so that he is compensated fairly for his case load.

"Some months the $1,500 he has been getting hasn't been covering the case load,"Sampinos told the council. "I suggest we raise it for a few months until we can get this under control."

The request fell on sympathetic ears in both the council and on Mayor Joe Piccolo. The said they were willing to deal with the situation as it arises.

"We need to trace the appointments he is give from the court," said Sampinos. "The money hasn't been enough for a few months, but now it seems to be slacking off a little."

The council granted permission for Sampinos to administer up to $2250 per month for compensation to Chiara so as the mayor put it "we don't over- or under-compensate him."

The general idea is to set an amount in the next fiscal year ($3,000 per month) that would be managed by the city attorney. That way he could compensate the appointed defender for the time they spent rather than making it a set amount.

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