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Winning or losing in court costs money

Brass Milled Gavel By walknboston (Flickr: Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Brass Milled Gavel By walknboston (Flickr: Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Diane Sennholz, Marathon Cou... (Download MP3)

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -  Many people believe when you win a court case, you don’t pay. That’s only half true. The fact is, the legal system is expensive, whether you win or lose your case. Many people don’t understand that even when you win in court, you are still responsible for certain types of costs.

For example, last week Taj Jefferson was found not guilty after being accused of having sex with a minor. Court records show that Jefferson could pay Marathon County about $12,000.

Marathon County Clerk of Courts Diane Sennholz says that happens in many types of cases.

She says in the Jefferson case example, the county arranged legal counsel for the defendant who could not afford an attorney but wasn’t declared indigent. Sennholz says Judge Vincent Howard was required to make sure Jefferson was represented properly, and like in many other cases, the county pays the attorney and the defendant repays the county.

Sennholz says judges authorize an amount for legal defense near the start of the process, and judges must approve all attorney invoices for services. The anticipated $12,000 was only an estimate, and Jefferson will end up paying whatever that attorney fee is.  That actual cost could be higher or lower than the projected $12,000.

Sennholz says many people including Jefferson have payment arrangements with her office to pay the legal counsel bill. She also reports that Jefferson has paid $350 of his installments so far. Sennholz says the only mystery right now is what the final attorney invoice price will be.

Should someone stop paying the county, Sennholz says she can have judgements filed against them to start collecting by other means.