Panel attorneys serve as independent contractors assisting the state public defender in representing clients of the public defender system. Panel attorneys maintain their current law practices.
See below for frequently asked questions about the Missouri State Public Defender (MSPD) Panel Attorney Program.
How much are panel attorneys paid?
Panel attorneys are paid an initial retainer fee for each case assignment in accordance with the contract fee schedule below. When multiple cases are assigned for the same client, the full contract guideline amount is paid for the most serious case and the multi-case discounted rate of half the contract guideline amount is paid for other cases. The multi-case rate applies to other cases for that client even if the case is in another county.
MSPD pays additional compensation in cases resolved by trial as shown below the fee schedule chart.
Jury Trial: $1,500 for the first day and $750 for each additional day, partial days prorated
Bench Trial: $750/day, partial days prorated
- Juvenile Certification Hearing where the Deputy Juvenile Officer recommended the child be prosecuted in adult court: $750/day, partial days prorated (effective for hearings on or after 7/1/20)
In homicide cases, as well as sexual predator trials, one half of the retainer fee is payable initially and the second half of the retainer fee is payable upon completion of 60 hours of work.
If the attorney doing the direct appeal also did the trial, then MSPD will pay $1,875 for the direct appeal, or half the guideline amount.
In rare, exceptional cases involving complex litigation, MSPD will consider variations from the fee schedule.
When an attorney withdraws from representation prior to the conclusion of the case, either the fee will be considered unearned or the fee will be considered only partially earned depending on the situation. In such cases, MSPD will require that the unearned portion of the fee be repaid through reduced-fee assignments or returned to the state of Missouri.
Are panel attorneys reimbursed for travel?
Yes, MSPD pays for mileage at the state-approved mileage rate so long as the attorney timely submits the information using the MSPD Excel monthly travel invoice form, which is due on the last day of the month following the month in which travel expenses were incurred. Mileage is presumed to be charged from the closest office (to the destination) counsel has on file with MSPD. Counsel may charge mileage leaving from home or returning to home ONLY IF home is a closer trip (fewer miles) than the office.
Do panel attorneys cover their own litigation expenses?
MSPD does not pay for routine office expenses such as mail, copies and phone calls, but panel attorneys can submit litigation expense requests to ask MSPD to cover the cost of necessary litigation expenses like taking depositions or hiring experts. Expenses are covered only if pre-approved before the expense is incurred.
How is a panel attorney’s geographic area of the state determined for purposes of case assignments?
Panel attorneys apply to accept case assignments from the judicial circuit/s of the panel attorney’s choice.
Do panel attorneys have to accept all case assignments received?
Panel attorneys are expected to accept all case assignments received. However, panel attorneys apply to accept only certain types of cases. For example, the attorney can opt not to accept juvenile cases or can exclude sex cases and the attorney will not receive assignment of such cases. Attorneys may limit case assignments, as described below.
How many case assignments do panel attorneys receive?
The number of case assignments panel attorneys receive varies from one area of the state to another and depends on many factors like the number of panel attorneys available in the area.
Panel attorneys always have the option to temporarily remove themselves from the case assignment rotation before a case is assigned if the attorney is too busy to accept additional cases at that time.
If you are interested in being a Panel Attorney and receiving contract cases from MSPD, please complete the Panel Attorney Application found at the link below.
MSPD reserves the right in its discretion to deny a panel attorney application, to deviate from the panel attorney case assignment rotation, to reassign a case, to reduce the seriousness of the types of cases assigned to a panel attorney, or to temporarily or permanently remove an attorney from the panel.
MSPD provides equal opportunities to all panel attorneys and applicants without regard to race, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sex, pregnancy, gender, gender identity, disability, genetic information, marital status, age, religion, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws.
If you have questions, email MSPD Case Contracting at: