Attorneys for five defendants in the Dallas City Hall corruption case have billed the government for more that $750,000 in legal expenses.
The attorneys were court appointed for the defendants who claim they could not afford to pay for their own lawyers.
Here is a list of expenses provided Wednesday from the Federal Court Clerk for former Dallas City Councilmember Don Hill, his wife Sheila Farrington Hill, former Dallas Plan Commissioner D’Angelo Lee, and businessmen Jibreel Rashad and Darren Reagan:
Hill - $165,221.06 ($118,960.00 Attorney's Fees; $46,261.06 Other)
Farrington - $242,765.55 ($192,429.71 Attorney's Fees; $50,335.84 Other)
Lee - $249,476.42 ($204,995.35 Attorney's Fees; $44,481.07 Other)
Rashad - $80,681.56 ($79,793.40 Attorney's Fees; $888.16 Other)
Reagan - $16,304.00 ($16,304.00 Attorney's Fees; No Other)
Rashad is still to be tried later. The others were all convicted in the bribery and extortion conspiracy case Monday after a trial that lasted more than three months. Businessman Rickey Robertson was also convicted but he paid for his own attorneys.
Court records show Don Hill was trying to raise money for his defense against the 2007 indictment until March 2008, when he was no longer able to pay.
Former US Attorney John Rattcliffe said the fees are not unusual.
“A prosecutor and a government needs a defendant to have a competent and vigorous defense so a jury has an accurate picture on which to base their decision,” he said.
Ratcliffe said without a competent defense, a conviction could be overturned on appeal and a retrial could be ordered.
“So tax payers would end up with two trials instead of one,” he explained.
Furthermore, Ratcliffe said the rates allowed for court appointed lawyers are capped far below what they might earn privately.
The expense still annoyed several people in the area Don Hill once represented as a Dallas city councilmember.
“Why should we have to pay for something he did wrong,” asked resident Sherry Green. “I don’t think that’s fair at all.”