Victims’ advocates and some attorneys say a reduction in the amount Ohio reimburses lawyers for work in abuse cases will make it more difficult for victims to get protection orders, especially in rural areas, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray says he had no choice but to rein in reimbursements from the state’s rapidly dwindling Crime Victims Compensation Fund.
A civil protection order is often the first step in a suspected abuse case. A victim can ask a judge to take such action as removing an abuser from a home or establishing temporary custody. Until now, the state reimbursed lawyers at a rate of $150 an hour for court and for travel time for work representing victims in such cases. The state paid $1.32 million to lawyers in 2008, with nearly half of that money going to just five attorneys or law firms. Beginning Oct. 1, that rate will be $60 an hour for court work and $30 an hour for travel, the same as attorneys have always received for helping crime victims fill out compensation claims.