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Kansas Supreme Court Vacates Attorney Fee Reimbursement Order

The Kansas Supreme Court vacated a sentencing court’s order requiring a criminal defendant to reimburse Board of Indigents’ Defense Services (BIDS) attorney fees, for failing to make appropriate findings on the record.

Morgan Wade was convicted of killing his former girlfriend and the mother of his son. His convictions were reversed, however, and the case remanded for a new trial. See: State v. Wade, 284 Kan. 527, 161 P.3d 704 (Kan. 2007).

On remand, Wade was again convicted and the trial court sentenced him “to a hard 25 life sentence” on one charge and a consecutive 55-month sentence on another. “The court also ordered that Wade reimburse BIDS attorney fees of approximately $6,400 based on the BIDS fee table.”

The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed Wade’s convictions but vacated the BIDS reimbursement order. Under K.S.A. 22-4513, a sentencing court may require a defendant to reimburse BIDS for attorney fees. However, the court “must consider on the record at the time of assessment the extent of the defendant’s financial resources and the burden upon the defendant that will result from such a payment order.” See: State v. Robinson, 281 Kan. 538, 132 P.3d 934 (Kan. 2006).

The state agreed that the sentencing court had failed to satisfy the Robinson requirements before ordering Wade to reimburse BIDS attorney fees. “Although the court ascertained that Wade is employable and does work when he is not in prison, it did not ascertain his financial resources or the burden such reimbursement would cause him,” the Supreme Court wrote. As such, the Court vacated the sentencing court’s order requiring Wade “to reimburse BIDS for attorney fees,” and instructed the lower court on remand “to support any subsequent reimbursement order with explicit findings on the record.” See: State v. Wade, 295 Kan. 916, 287 P.3d 237 (Kan. 2012).