HODGE V. HON. EDDY COLEMAN
CRIMINAL: POST CONVICTION TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR WITNESSES
DATE RENDERED: 1/24/2008
This case required SC to determine if indigent post-conviction petitioners are entitled to public funds for the travel expenses of their out-of-county witnesses in cases in which a court has determined that an evidentiary hearing is necessary to resolve the post-conviction motion. SC unanimously held in Stopher v. Conliffe that Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 31.185 "does not apply to post-conviction proceedings." Despite Stopher’s sweeping prohibition against the application of KRS 31.185 to post-conviction proceedings, approximately one year later SC issued Commonwealth v. Paisley which left open the possibility that KRS 31.185 could be used as a source for funding the hiring of expert witnesses for certain post-conviction petitioners . This divergent approach to the potential availability of public funds for indigent post-conviction petitioners has caused confusion. In an effort to eliminate that confusion, SC partially overruled Stopher and held that the special fund created in KRS 31.185(4) can be used to pay out-of-county witness expenses for indigent post-conviction petitioners, provided that a court has found that (1) the petitioner’s post-conviction petition raises an issue that cannot be resolved without an evidentiary hearing and (2) the proposed out-of-county witness’s live testimony at the evidentiary hearing is necessary for a full presentation of the petitioner’s case.
SCOTT C. BYRD