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My eye was caught by a recent article in the ISJ (Wednesday, November 31) noting that the Idaho State Legislature to this point has paid to private attorneys $276,495 in legal fees to defend Idaho’s recently enacted anti-abortion laws. That’s over and above what our Attorney General’s Office has provided.I’m just an ordinary citizen, a simple Idaho country boy whose world view and values were formed back in the middle of the 20th century, and doubtless I’m not sophisticated enough to understand the subtle workings of the current legislature and current private law practices. But I’ve got to say, something in that situation smells off to me—really off. And in more ways than one.Let’s just say hypothetically that you are paying a private law firm $500 per billable hour. (That figure will sound obscenely large to most Idahoans, a great many of whom work for less than $20 an hour, even to those better paid who work for under $50 an hour.) At that rate for your quarter million plus so far you would have bought 553 hours, the equivalent of 69 days, 14 forty-hour work weeks.If the hypothetical billable amount per hour is less, you’ve bought even more time.Now to be sure, even unsophisticated me understands that that law firm has to do a fair bit of legal research—most of which is probably being done not by the pricey lawyer(s) at the top themselves but by paralegals, who are certainly not being paid anything like $500 an hour. And you have to throw in some hours for secretarial assistance—much more modestly paid of course. And it costs something to maintain an office.Of course, the hot-shot lawyers will also have to be paid for spending more time if there are future legal challenges, as seems likely, but those hours, I assume, will be in addition to the current quarter million plus.When the big boys sat down to analyze the precedents and formulate their arguments, how many eight hour days did they need? Really? How complicated did the arguments get? Really? There are not all that many possible positions on the abortion question to ponder.Should legal justice really have to be so incredibly expensive?And why does the conservative Idaho Legislature think we to have to hire private lawyers at extra expense when something like one hundred thirty lawyers are employed in the Attorney General’s office? Is no one there competent to argue before the courts on behalf of the state? (That does seem bizarre.) Are the questions surrounding abortion so subtle, so nuanced?I don’t know. Maybe there are just some super brilliant lawyers from Nampa and Las Vegas, whose powers of analysis and persuasion far exceed the rest of the lawyerly tribe, who were therefore able to bedazzle the ordinary minds of the Idaho Supreme Court justices regardless of fact and precedent. In which case, maybe they’re worth their exorbitant fees. Is that how the Legislature sees it?Excuse me, but to this ordinary citizen it seems clear that outgoing Republican AG Lawrence Wasden’s legally grounded AG office thought much of what this extreme Republican Legislature has been trying to do on abortion and other issues is legally indefensible.Hence the need for House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder and their minions to hire outside lawyers who are willing (for the right price) to argue for their questionable legislative actions. (Really, they needed two outside law firms involved? Naïve, unsophisticated me, I guess.)Those who think that the Attorney General’s office should be a team player and a support for the Legislature, regardless of likely legal outcomes, should be heartened. With the recent election of Raul Labrador, who has declared that his modus operandi as AG will be to take political cues from the Legislature, perhaps it will not now be necessary for the Legislature to continue to spend millions from their Legislature Legal Defense Fund to retain private lawyers for highly questionable cases.Of course, maybe my old school concern about unnecessary waste in government is silly. The leaders of our Idaho House and Senate must know what is best for Idaho. After all,Idaho’s a rich state with deep coffers and can easily afford duplicate services that support private enterprise, i.e. law practices, so no worries. After all, what’s a quarter million dollars and more here and there — only the price of a starter home in our state, as many discouraged young people are finding out.Wayne Schow, a native Idahoan, is a professor of English emeritus at Idaho State University. Schow lives in Pocatello.

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The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has reached a proposed settlement with the state of Iowa to resolve allegations concerning resident care at the state-run Glenwood Resource Center for people with disabilities. The settlement, which is in the form of a proposed consent decree that still must be approved by a federal […]

The post DOJ settles with state over ‘deviant’ experiments on disabled Glenwood residents appeared first on Iowa Capital Dispatch.

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TOPEKA —  Eighty percent of all active Kansas attorneys live in six urban counties, leaving Kansas rural communities struggling to find legal help. The newly created Rural Justice Initiative Committee plans to tackle the issue, with the goal of attracting attorneys to practices in rural areas. In Kansas, there’s a ratio of two attorneys per […]

The post Kansas Supreme Court justice tackles state’s severe shortage of rural attorneys appeared first on Kansas Reflector.

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FILE - Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 4 2022. Weinstein’s defense team has rested its case and closing arguments will soon begin at the Los Angeles trial of the former movie magnate. (Etienne Laurent/Pool Photo via AP, File)

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U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright speaks during an interview at his Scranton office on Wednesday.

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U.S. Congressman Matt Cartwright at his Scranton office on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022.