Last Updated: Aug 9th, 2013 - 08:51:56

Commissioners seek proposals for legal services
By Steve Ramos, Reporter
Jun 17, 2013, 15:48

The Moore County Commissioners' Court on Monday discussed for the second time how best to get a handle on the cost of providing legal representation for people who can't afford to pay for felony or misdemeanor legal fees. Moore County Judge Rowdy Rhoades introduced the issue during their April 22 regular meeting, telling the commissioners, "We're big enough that we need our own contract or our own defender."
Since 2001, Moore County has partnered with Dallam, Sherman and Hartley counties, contracting with the Law Office of Jerod Pingelton of Dumas to provide indigent legal representation. The contract covers legal counsel for 800 cases, but in 2012, there were 882 cases, causing Moore County to pay an additional $27,500 in attorney fees on top of the $261,697 it must pay for its share of legal representation for indigents. Of the 882 cases Pingelton defended, 73 percent of them were from Moore County.
"We've talked awhile back about what we wanted to do," Rhoades said during Monday's meeting. "I've talked to Jerod Pingelton, and he brought us a proposal."
The commissioners have discussed pulling out of the contract it shares with the other three counties that comprise the 69th Judicial District and either hiring a public defender or contracting with one exclusively. The commissioners opted not to open Pingelton's proposal and, instead, approved a motion to request proposals from attorneys to provide indigent defense beginning October 1.
Find a full recap of the commissioners' court story in the June 16 print edition.