Mayor Bloomberg's offer to use taxpayer dollars to pay for a criminal defense lawyer for the speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, and possibly for other council members, is a sharp departure from practice in Washington, where public officials who may have violated criminal statutes almost always pay for their own defense.
The federal government usually covers legal fees in civil or administrative cases, but rarely in criminal cases, a former federal prosecutor who has represented President Clinton, Senator McCain, and two former secretaries of defense, Robert Bennett, said.
Lawyers for Council Seen as a Departure
When Mr. Bennett was told that the criminal defense lawyer hired to represent Ms. Quinn, Lee Richards III, is charging $600 an hour, he said he thought that the rate was "pretty unusual."
"Normally when the government pays, there are rates that are significantly less than that," he said. Governments often pay a discounted rate when hiring private lawyers.