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Alabama State Supreme Court Denies Mandamus for Payment of Defense Expenses

The Supreme Court of Alabama denied in June 2012 Defendant’s petition for writ of mandamus to compel the circuit court to enforce its orders to the Office of Indigent Services and the Comptroller’s Office to disburse interim payments of fees to Defendant’s retained experts. Defendant Amy Bishop Anderson was charged with capital murder after a mass shooting incident during a biology department faculty meeting at University of Alabama in Huntsville on February 2, 2010. Anticipating a not guilty plea by reason of mental disease or defect, Defendant motioned ex parte for extraordinary expenses, which circuit court authorized and were intended to be used to retain a neuropsychiatrist, Dr. James Merikangas.

Dr. Merikangas began working on the case expecting payment, but almost two months later Defense received a letter from the comptroller explaining that they were by statute not permitted to prepay experts, they could only make payment after all the expert’s work was completed. Anticipating further testing, Defense moved for more extraordinary expenses, which the court granted.

Dr. David Clark, UAB Hospital neurologist, submitted a fee estimate per the above court order and circuit court ordered the comptroller to disburse the funds. Office of Indigent Defense Services wrote Defendant advising that interim payment would not be disbursed because there were not procedures in place to facilitate such payment.

Defendant filed her petition for a writ of mandamus with the court of criminal appeals to compel disbursement of funds. The petition was denied because Defendant failed to establish a clear legal right to the relief sought. Anderson appealed to the cause at bar, specifying “interim payments’ and the dates of previous court orders.

In analysis, the Supreme Court noted that Anderson did not support her contentions, misconstruing the procedures involved with placing a writ of mandamus before the court. She referred to the three court orders for releasing funds but did not provide the orders themselves as attachments. The court stated, “As the petitioner, Anderson is obliged to advise this court of all the ‘facts necessary to an understanding of the issues presented by the petition,’” and to show a clear legal right to the order sought. Anderson did not honor her obligation as petitioner, neither to show the court orders nor to show that the circuit court had refused to honor those orders.

The Supreme Court of Alabama denied Anderson’s petition. See: Ex parte Anderson, ___ So.3d ___ (Al. 2012); 2012 WL 2477931.

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Related legal case

Ex parte Anderson