Supervisors release $2.2 million in legal defense funds

In a second and final vote, the Board of Supervisors voted 11-0 Tuesday to release $2.2 million in the general fund reserve to pay for Superior Court expenses of providing legal defense for those who cannot afford one on their own.

The costs were incurred during fiscal year 2009-10.

Case loads at the court are increasing.

In fiscal year 2009-10, the court’s indigent defense program handled 10,567 cases, up from the previous year’s 7,501 cases. The costs increased from $8.8 million to $12.8 million, which breaks down to the average cost per case increasing from $1,175 to $1,217.

“Two years ago we had 3,700 felonies. For the fiscal year that just ended we had 4,800 felonies,” said Michael Yuen, court executive officer. “Felonies by far are the most expensive type of cases that we handle.”

Misdemeanors increased from 4,082 in fiscal year 2008-09 to almost 11,000 in fiscal year 2009-10.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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