State appeals to pay $1.3 million in competency case

Suicide Attempt in Benton County Jail

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state health officials are appealing a federal court order to pay $1.3 million in attorney’s fees to lawyers of mentally ill defendants who sued the state for warehousing them in jails.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in April that the state was violating the constitutional rights “of its most vulnerable citizens” by forcing them to wait for weeks or months in jails for competency services.

Pechman issued a permanent injunction requiring the state to provide competency evaluations and treatment to restore competency within seven days of a judge’s order.

In June, Pechman granted the lawyers’ request to make the state pay $1.26 million in fees and $35.400 in costs.

On Tuesday, the state filed notice that they’re appealing that order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.