Colin County public defender back pay approved

Some attorneys who work as public defenders in Collin County say they are being used as political pawns in a matter that should not involve them and their paychecks are at the center of it all.

Court appointed attorneys like Kristen O'Brien spoke at the county commissioner’s court meeting on Monday. O'Brien wanted the commissioners to see her two daughters, who she says are affected when she is not paid for work she's completed.

The attorneys defend people charged with crimes, see the cases through the court process, then submit invoices for approval and payment.

A recent round of submissions was not paid because more information was needed from an auditor to determine if the amounts meet the county's legal guidelines, officials said. The attorneys argued if the situation wasn’t quickly resolved then it would be damaging to the court system and to families.

The commissioners then voted to release more than a $140,000 in public defenders pay for roughly 70 attorneys. 

The commission soon afterward went into executive session for further discussion. Prior to that, commissioners continued seeking an auditor's clarification on future amounts being billed.

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