Circuit court seeking help to replenish defender funds

After two recent high-profile trials strained finances in Bartholomew Circuit Court, the judge will ask for up to $25,000 to replenish his funds.

The request by Judge Stephen Heimann will be made to the Bartholomew County Council during its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Heimann will seek to tap into two different funds, Bartholomew County Deputy Auditor Sandy Beatty said.

The first is an annual $3,000 public defender fund, which only has $1,018 remaining, Beatty said. Once that fund is depleted, Heimann’s request could tap into the county’s general fund, she said.

When a jury found suspended Hope Town Marshal Donald “Randy” Bailey guilty of misconduct and false informing Jan. 28, the verdict came after the trial lasted two days longer than expected.

Although last month’s murder trial for Samuel E. Sallee concluded earlier than expected, the court is legally bound to provide two public defenders for a life-without-parole trial, according to state statute.

In the Sallee court proceedings, the cost to taxpayers to retain both David Nowak and Christopher Clerc was $55,489.50.

While Beatty said Heimann may not need to spend the entire $25,000 he is requesting, she also noted that Sallee has signaled his intention to appeal his Feb. 25 conviction and April 2 sentence of four consecutive terms of life without parole.” Heimann appointed Columbus attorney Jane Ann Noblitt to handle the appeals process for Sallee.

During Monday’s work session, council members acknowledged the county is obligated under law to pay for public defenders and appeals for those who cannot afford them.

If you go

Bartholomew County Council meeting, 6 p.m. Tuesday, fourth-floor council chambers at the Bartholomew County Governmental Office Building, Third and Franklin streets, in Columbus.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.