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GRAHAM, NC (AP) — More than a dozen defense attorneys have resigned from Alamance County’s court-appointed counsel list after the state said it could no longer pay $75 per hour for defense of poor clients.

The Times-News of Burlington reports only a handful of defense attorneys now remain on the county’s list of lawyers willing to take misdemeanor and felony cases for clients too poor to pay for lawyers.

State Indigent Defense Services Director Thomas Maher says a decision was made to cut the $75-per-hour fee because the office faces a $12 million budget shortfall.

The attorneys say they cannot afford to work for less.

A new payment amount for indigent counsel had not been determined Wednesday.

Judges have the option of directly ordering attorneys to take cases if no court-appointed attorney is available.

Information from: Times-News, http://www.thetimesnews.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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