Several months ago Ben Swift, an attorney in the Dayton, Ohio area, made headlines as the “highest paid court-appointed attorney in the state of Ohio.” He billed area courts for defense work to the tune of nine hours a day, seven days a week for 365 days straight. According to records kept by the Ohio Public Defender’s office, Swift amassed $142,945 in appointed counsel fees between March 2008 and February 2009.
“’He’s probably billing more than humanly possible. That’s what it sounds like,’ said Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Nick Kuntz, whose court was responsible for 60 percent of Swift’s indigent case load.” Swift defended his hours saying, “We routinely put in 10-, 11-hour work days.”
Turns out Judge Kuntz was correct, Swift is now being disciplined “after an audit found he had submitted bills for working 29 hours in a single day and more than 20 hours per day on other occasions.” According to the Dayton Daily News a disciplinary action has been filed against Swift with the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners.
The final audit found several days where Swift billed for 29 hours of work, 23 hours of work, 21.5 hours of work, and 21 hours of work. Swift’s attorney cites “sloppy record-keeping” as the reason for the discrepancy, but claims that Swift did do the work. This article highlights the importance of keeping contemporaneous billing records in order to avoid issues like the one faced by Ben Swift.