$1M spent: A look at indigent defense costs in Grayson County

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
Grayson County Justice Center

Grayson County is spending big bucks defending those who cannot provide their own legal counsel. Indigent defense in Grayson County costs nearly $1 million annually which is nearly $7 per person in the county. 

Statistics from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission show that the total cost to defend those who cannot provide their own counsel was $959,101 in Grayson County in 2020, the latest time period the agency broke down the amounts received by each attorney by the number of cases.

Though the amount was more than $20,000 higher in 2020, the amount has been consistently over $900,000 since 2016, and as the county is soon to enter into its budgeting season for the next fiscal year, that number is not expected to lessen.

In 2019, the county spent $931,590 for indigent defense and in 2001, the county spent just $623,444 for indigent defense which worked out to be about $6 per person in Grayson County back then.

In the most recent fiscal year, October 1, 2020 through May 28,2021, Grayson County has paid $392,503 to attorneys for indigent defense.

Of that, Marcus Olds was paid $47,207. Pamela McGraw was paid $43,310. Tim Brown was paid $26,027. Garland Cardwell was paid $25,362. Tim Haney was paid $22,700. Thomas Scott Smith was paid $22,326. Rick Dunn was paid $20,520. Bob Richardson Jr. was paid $19,509. Jeffrey Edward Dailey was paid $17,888 and Enid Anne Williams was paid $17,480.

In the coming weeks, Grayson County commissioners will be looking at the county's budget for the coming fiscal year, and one of the largest sections of the budget deals with the administration of justice. 

The last time the Grayson County budget makers in commissioners court addressed indigent defense costs was in August of 2018 when they increased the pay for such attorneys. 

At that time, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the increase approved meant an attorney doing office work on an indigent case could expect to receive $60 an hour for the minimum pay. Additionally, such an attorney providing in court representation for an indigent case could expect to see an increase from $75 to $85 an hour for the minimum pay for that work. Judges have discretion to increase that pay based on the work the complexity of the case.

Each of the three district courts and two county courts-at-law set out a budget each year for the amount of money it will spend providing indigent defendants with counsel.

A look at the county's most recent budgets show that the 15th state district court budgeted $262,000 for such appointments in 2021, $300,000 in 2020 and 302,128 in 2019.

In the same respect, the 59th state district court budgeted $210,000 in 2021, $240,000 in 2020 and $258,809 in 2019.

The 397th budgeted $218,000 in 2021, $255,000 in 2020 and $249,297 in 2019.

County Court-at-law 2 budgeted $130,000 in 2021, $150,000 in 2020 and $102,751 in 2019.

County Court-at-Law 1 budgeted $130,000 in 2021, $150,000 in 2020 and $102,751 in 2019.

The county's most recent budgets reveal that the county generally gets about $100,000 annually from the state for this type of defense.

TIDC break down by cases in 2020

Pamela McGraw received $85,430 for work on 150 cases,

Marcus Olds, $72,121 for work on 120 cases;

Tim Haney, $70,939 for work on 161 cases;

Thomas Scott Smith, $49,855 for work on 148 cases;

Timothy Brown, $43,426 for work on 119 cases;

Rick Dunn, $41,647 for work on 123 cases;

Garland Cardwell, $38,278 for work on 57 cases;

Jeffrey Edward Dailey, $36,718 for work on 127 cases;

Enid Anne Williams, $35,092 for work on 125 cases

Jeromie Oney, $34,891 for work on 115 cases.

TIDC break down by cases in 2019

Garland Cardwell received $111,159 for work on 159 cases;

Pamela McGraw received $79,709 for work on 137;

Timothy Brown,$69,141 for 142 cases;

Jeromie Oney, $68,252 for work on 158 cases;

Marcus Olds,$49,878 for work on 96 cases;

Robert Richardson Jr., $48,202 for work on 98 cases;

Rick Dunn, $47,552 for work on 167 cases;

Joe N. Smith, $43,404 for 116 cases;

Edin Ann Williams, $41,663 for work on 170;

Tim Haney, $39,584 for work on 113 cases.