By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
The city of Philadelphia is still planning on awarding legal services contracts for the representation of litigants in criminal and family court cases for which the Defender Association of Philadelphia has a conflict, Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, said in an interview today. The current model involves court-appointed attorneys.
However, the contract does not need to be issued by July 1, which is the start of the new fiscal year, Gillison said. There has been a lot of speculation that the contracts would have to be awarded by the start of the fiscal year.
Covering criminal cases with a new model is very feasible, Gillison said, but court-appointed attorneys would still be necessary for the fourth, fifth and sixth co-defendants in the very rare criminal cases involving that many co-defendants.
But having a new model in which a law firm handles a bunch of the work regarding dependency cases is “a lot more challenging. Quite frankly, it’s 15,000 cases,” Gillison said.
“We’ll probably have to have a hybrid that deals with that,” Gillison said. “But we still want to provide additional support to those court-appointed counsel.”
Lawyers in the dependency area also need to raise their level of practice, Gillison said.
Gillison said the decision regarding the legal-services model rests with him and the City Solicitor’s Office, and that he has questions that the law department is answering.
The vendors have been narrowed down to two or three bidders, Gillison said.