Beginning in 2008, Missouri State Public Defender offices across the state will accept only the most serious of the cases referred to them.
Otherwise, the public defender system can afford to contract out 3,000 cases to private attorneys. After that, cases will be refused by the public defender system, and left to the courts to decide what to do.
It’s not quite the “nuclear option” — the decision to take no more cases — that the state Public Defender Commission considered, but narrowly rejected, earlier this year after a consultant described the Missouri public defender system as being in a crisis. But it comes close.
The system’s crisis was described in a 2005 report commissioned by the Missouri Bar as the 47th lowest funded state public defender system in the nation and “on the verge of collapse.”
In the last three months alone, the Boone County public defender’s office has received 1,134 new cases, 378 cases a month, or an average of 31 new cases a month or one new case a day for each lawyer, Deputy Director Cathy Kelly said.
It sounds like taxpayers and legislators in Missouri don’t care much about the constitution. You can’t care about the constitution while at the same time you refuse to provide the resources necessary to defend those accused of crimes.
I’d love to see that report saying MO has the 47th lowest funded state public defender system in the nation. What’s the lowest funded? What’s the best? Where are the top 10 best funded systems? What is life like there? [tags]MO, funding, caseloads, budgets, crisis[/tags]