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March 23, 2007

More of the costs of a capital case

Image_5229917The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today has this intrigung article that, along with the graphic shown here, seeks to details all the costs of the death penalty prosecution of courthouse killer Brian Nichols.  Here is how it starts and some additional details:

Sparks fly over the multimillion-dollar defense of Brian Nichols, but few people complain about the cost of prosecuting the accused courthouse killer. In fact, no one even knows the bottom line. But the Nichols prosecution is running up a hefty tab of its own, a review of court filings, personnel and other information obtained through the Georgia Open Records Act shows.

Some legal experts predict police and prosecutors will spend twice as much — $4 million or more — as the defense by trial's end.  The spending does not stop there. Other court expenses, including jury costs and the paychecks of the judge and courtroom security, could top $1 million....

The $82.5 million spent to investigate and prosecute Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols is believed to be a record.  Defending McVeigh, who was executed for the 1995 attack that left 168 dead, cost more than $13 million. 

Richard Burr, one of McVeigh's lawyers, said the defense team reached 14 lawyers plus six investigators and a number of paralegals. They had to sift through almost 500,000 pages of documents, he said.  The cost of the defense is directly proportionate to the cost and the extent of the prosecution," Burr said. "The more work they do and the more resources they use, there has to be a corresponding response by the defense.  That said, the defense resources never come close to the prosecution's."

Burr estimated the Nichols prosecution will cost two to three times more than his defense.

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March 23, 2007 at 08:48 AM | Permalink


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» The High Cost of Criminal Litigation from Concurring Opinions
Doug Berman has a good post here (and here and here as well) on the costs of prosecuting capital cases. It appears there's been a big flap in Atlanta over expenditures for the defense of Brian Nichols, the fellow charged... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 25, 2007 11:55:23 PM


That's all very nice. But the relevant inquiry is not how much the case will cost, but rather, how much more will the case cost as a capital case than if tried as LWOP case?

All the graphic tells us is how expensive a high profile case like this is. It does not provide much of an argument that "the death penalty is too expensive."

Posted by: Tom McKenna | Mar 23, 2007 10:35:17 AM

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