Pima County judge will decide if attorney overbilled for services

2013-02-19T00:00:00Z 2014-09-05T15:34:08Z Pima County judge will decide if attorney overbilled for servicesKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A judge, not a jury, will decide if a veteran defense attorney overbilled the county more than $75,000 for his work in a murder case.

Last year, Bob Hirsh, director of Pima County's Office of Court Appointed Counsel informed now-retired Judge Clark Munger he believed only $1,500 of the $77,600 Richard Parrish had billed in the Robert Moody case was legitimate.

Moody, 53, was convicted in 1995 in the November 1993 murders of Michelle Malone, 33, and Patricia Magda, 56.

His conviction was overturned, but he was convicted again in 2001 and sentenced to death. His sentence was later set aside, too, and in February 2010, Moody was resentenced, this time to two life terms without the possibility of release.

Parrish was appointed to see if Moody was entitled to a new trial, and defense attorney Brick Storts was appointed to handle the appeal regarding his 2010 sentencing.

Hirsh told Munger that when reviewing Parrish's bills he realized Parrish had billed the county despite the fact he hadn't read the 120 volumes of transcripts from the 2001 trial. Hirsh also alleged Parrish had continued to bill the county even after Munger had told him to stop working on the case until the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on the appeal Storts filed.

Munger scheduled a hearing and demanded Parrish show why he shouldn't reimburse the county.

The hearing was rescheduled several times and ultimately Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Nichols ended up with the case following Munger's retirement.

Former Arizona State Supreme Court Judge Stanley Feldman, who represents Parrish, said Parrish did read the transcripts and his billings were appropriate.

During a hearing last month, Feldman also told Nichols the county should sue Parrish, who is now retired.

By causing an "order to show cause hearing" to be scheduled instead of suing, Feldman argued Parrish has been deprived of the right to assert a defense, obtain information and present evidence to rebut the county's claims.

He also said Hirsh violated the rules of professional conduct by having one-sided conversations with Munger.

Last week, Nichols ruled Arizona Revised Statutes, Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure and Pima County's local rules permit judges to review how appointed attorneys are compensated.

A status hearing is scheduled for March 1.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com On StarNet: Follow courthouse news in Kim Smith's blog, At the Courthouse, at azstarnet.com/ courthouse

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