WILKES-BARRE — Attorneys for accused murderer Hugo Selenski say that cannot continue to represent him in his pending homicide trial because they have not been paid since October.
Attorneys Shelley Centini and Edward Rymsza say because they haven’t received adequate compensation they want to be taken off of Selenski’s case, according to court papers filed Friday.
In court papers, the attorney say they both agreed to hourly rates that were an “enormous concession” in that they were much less than they would have charged a private client. The original court order that appointed Centini to defend Selenski says she was to earn $85 per hour without benefits with a cap of $40,000, equal to about 470 hours of work.
The attorneys met a cap set by Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni and made several subsequent requests for more pay.
In October 2012, the attorneys said, Pierantoni made a “final cap” — stopping any further payment.
On March 13, a hearing was held in which Pierantoni made alterations to payments the attorneys would receive, with Centini getting $400 a day during a jury trial for Selenski and Rymsza $300 a day.
But, those changes did not include “significant sums of money owed to (Centini and Rymsza) for their hourly work already performed from October to the present” and that they will not receive “one further dollar until the first day of trial.”
The attorneys pointed out in court papers that there is not any type of “breakdown” in their relationship with Selenski.
“To the contrary, at all times (Centini and Rymsza) have maintained an excellent professional relationship with Mr. Selenski,” the court filing states. “He has been highly cooperative, helpful, respectful and an otherwise model client.”
The judges decision to not pay the attorneys until the time of trial, court papers say, is the sole reason they are seeking to be taken off Selenski’s case.
The attorneys claim they were not told of a “final cap” when they agreed to take on the case and that they do not agree to work for free or “out of charity.”
The attorneys also claim that their private law firms suffer because they must turn down clients.
Records from the Luzerne County Controller’s Office show $90,869 has been paid to Centini since she was appointed by the court in January 2012, according to a Times Leader article published earlier this month.
A judge will schedule a hearing to consider the attorneys’ request. No date had been scheduled as of Friday afternoon.