Fee Transparency


Session Law 2014-100, § 18A.1 ("Indigent Defense Services Fee Transparency") requires the Office of Indigent Defense Services to post certain information from attorney fee applications online in a searchable format that is updated at least biweekly. The full special provision is set forth below.

SECTION 18A.1. The Office of Indigent Defense Services, in consultation and cooperation with the Office of the State Controller and the Office of State Budget and Management, shall develop and implement a plan for making certain information contained in fee applications by attorneys publicly available online. The plan shall provide for online access to the following information with respect to each fee application filed: the name of the attorney filing the application, the case number and the county, the class of the highest charge against the defendant, an indication as to whether there are multiple charges against the defendant, the judge who approved the fee application, the amount paid to the attorney through the application, and the date of that payment. In the case of fee applications that cover work paid by the session rather than by the case, the plan shall provide for identification of those applications by session. The plan shall require (i) the information to be updated at least biweekly, (ii) the information to be searchable, and (iii) all information regarding capital cases to be clearly labeled as such. . . . Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the disclosure of information otherwise protected as confidential under State or federal law.

Because of the repeated references to "defendant" and "charges," and because of the language about not requiring disclosure of confidential information at the end of the special provision, IDS interprets this directive to be limited to criminal cases, not juvenile delinquency cases or the civil case types that are funded through IDS.

In addition to the information that IDS is directed to post, and in an effort to make the data more meaningful and less subject to misinterpretation, IDS also posts a calculated field providing the length of time in days that the case was pending (defined as the time span between the date of first client interview and date of disposition), and the case disposition. If the field for length of time pending is blank, no date of first interview was provided. Data on whether or not there were multiple charges is based on self reporting from the attorneys and may be incomplete.

The data includes all criminal fee applications paid January 2, 2015 and later. The data is generated from the North Carolina Accounting System, which has limited capacity for data entry. IDS' protocol is to key the first four initials of judges' first names and as much of the last names as will fit in the field. As a result, the names of judges/fee setters are often incomplete.

Please note that each Excel workbook has a tab for each month or quarter posted.