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Edwards, petitioner (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-035-13)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us     SJC‑11120   RAYMOND EDWARDS, petitioner.     Norfolk.     November 5, 2012.  ‑  March 7, 2013. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, & Duffly, JJ.       Practice, Civil, Dismissal of appeal, Intervention, Judicial discretion.  Statute, Construction.  Committee for Public Counsel Services.  Witness, Expert, Fee.  Evidence, Sex offender, Expert opinion.       Petition filed in the Superior Court Department on August 1, 2008.   Following transfer, the case was tried before Douglas H. Wilkins, J., and posttrial motions for supplemental funds and  for reconsideration were considered by him.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Ryan M. Schiff, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for intervener. Anne M. Thomas, Assistant Attorney General, for the Commonwealth.       GANTS, J.  The primary issue presented on appeal is whether, in determining the reasonable compensation to be paid to an expert retained by an indigent petitioner seeking release from commitment as a sexually dangerous person under G. L. c. 123A, § 9 (§ 9), a judge is bound by the hourly rate determined for that expert by the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) under § 9 (i).  We hold that a judge is bound by CPCS’s determination of an hourly rate but still retains the authority to determine whether the total amount billed is reasonable by examining whether the services provided were reasonably necessary to provide the petitioner as effective a case as he would have had if he were financially able to pay.  Because we conclude that the judge acted in accordance with these limits in determining the reasonable amount of the expert’s fee, we affirm.   Background.  In 2008, Raymond Edwards (petitioner), a person committed to the Massachusetts Treatment Center as a sexually dangerous person pursuant to G. L. c. 123A, § 12 (§ 12),[1] filed a petition seeking release from commitment under § 9.[2]  After being found indigent, the petitioner filed a motion under G. L. c. 261, § 27C (§ 27C), inserted by St. 1974, c. 694, § 3, requesting that the judge authorize funds in the amount of $ 5,000 to retain the services of an “independent qualified examiner” to evaluate the petitioner and assist in the preparation of his case.[3]  In making this request, the petitioner asserted that “[t]he cost of an independent expert examination, report, and testimony typically totals about $ 5,000″ and “[r]arely” costs less than $ 4,000, and that an independent […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 7, 2013 at 6:44 pm

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