Lawyer explains why Sherra Wright appointed private attorney, not public defender

Lawyer explains why Sherra Wright appointed private attorney, not public defender

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - With Dream Team 2 out and a new lawyer in, many are wondering why Sherra Wright, who's accused of killing her ex-husband--former NBA star Lorenzen Wright, was appointed a private attorney and not a public defender.

A judge will usually appoint a private lawyer when the Office of the Public Defender has a conflict or ethical reason they cannot represent the party, hence the reason for hiring a private attorney.

Attorney Gray Bartlett said a privately-appointed lawyer is actually very common.

"Typically, if they're not eligible for...public defender services, a judge will appoint a private lawyer to represent them," he said.

That's where Juni Ganguli comes in. He's a private attorney appointed by Judge Lee Coffee to represent Sherra Wright. His services will be paid by taxpayers.

"It is payed for with taxpayer funds. There's a fund administered by Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts. There's a fee schedule by which they pay private lawyers in indigent representation cases," Bartlett said.

This month, that fee increased from $40 an hour to $50. It's the first time the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered an increase in the amount paid to indigent lawyers in 20 years.

"Any amount of time that he spends on the case, whether it's preparing for the case with his client, whether it's reviewing the discovery materials, and my understanding from the media reports is that the discovery is lengthy," Bartlett said of the hours Ganguli will be paid for working on Sherra Wright's case.

Ganguli said yesterday that he knows he's got a lot of work to do, but he's confident he'll be successful.

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