Missouri needs 300 more public defenders

4 months 2 days 5 hours ago Thursday, February 15 2018 Feb 15, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018 1:04:00 PM CST February 15, 2018 in News
By: Rob Veno, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

JEFFERSON CITY - The Public Defenders Office is requesting increased funding for to help pay for more public defenders.

The office went before the House Budget Committee Thursday. Comptroller Kathy Lear said the office is requesting an increase of roughly $30 million. Nearly all of that would go to funding additional attorneys.

The director of the Public Defenders Office, Michael Barrett, said “We’ve had vacancies open for six months or for a year in many jurisdictions in this state.” 

According to the American Bar Association, Missouri currently needs about 300 more public defenders to, “provide competent representation.”

In Boone County, Barrett said, the office has more than 100,000 cases per year. That means the attorneys don't have the time needed to spend with each individual case.

The bar association said public defenders in Missouri should be spending an average of 47 hours per case, but instead can only spend nine.

“They just don't have the time." Barrett said.

Currently Missouri ranks 49th in pay for its public defenders, who are paid between $39,000-$63,000 per year. That's roughly $355 dollars per case. A lawyer in a private firm could expect to make that much money in a single hour.

Barrett said the requested increase in funding would raise the low end of salaries by $7,000. He said that would make it possible to attract more lawyers, who can leave college with an average of 100,000-200,000 of student debt.

“Many of them want to work for the system, many people want to protect people's rights, they just can’t afford to,” he said.

Without the additional funding, lawyers are becoming increasingly either unable or unwilling to become public defenders, Barrett said, and those who are willing to take the low-paying jobs aren't always the most best fit.

“The only applicant for one of our positions was a licensed attorney in Illinois who’s got a DWI and doesn’t have the ability to drive,” Barrett said. “These are the kinds of preposterous discussions we’re having to put people in offices.”

Barrett said the situation is leading to increased waiting times for inmates and those inmates are often getting short-changed because the public defenders can't adequately represent them.

“I think the state, if it has an interest in the criminal justice system being relied upon before we take away someone’s liberties, we're going to have to do a better job,” Barrett said.

 

 

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY- Juneteenth brings communities together to honor the official ending of slavery in the U.S. One group in Jefferson... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 11:17:00 AM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Missouri Democratic Party is suing to block the appointment of Mike Kehoe as lieutenant governor.... More >>
2 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 11:10:00 AM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Trump administration policy to force separation of migrant children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico... More >>
5 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 7:58:00 AM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Monday began Summer Safety Week and local programs are helping those in danger of not being able to... More >>
7 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 5:54:00 AM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Democratic political action committee is targeting Republican Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley for not... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 4:22:00 AM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY - Former Gov. Eric Greitens' attorneys will meet with lawyers Tuesday to discuss his use of the Confide... More >>
10 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 3:00:00 AM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Monday he is directing the Pentagon to create a new "Space Force" as... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 7:08:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri democrats want Governor Mike Parson fire his chief operating officer and cancel a contract awarded to... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Mid-Missouri air conditioning companies are facing the busiest time of year amid a four-day heat advisory. Craig... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 5:16:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – The attorney representing the security guard who shot Anthony Warren at a Waffle House on New Year's Day... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 3:12:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The 600 block of Monroe Street will be closed until Friday. Construction crews are removing a retaining... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 2:20:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A death, a huge cache of weapons and a suspect whose gun jammed as he was aiming... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 2:17:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Mike Parson appointed state Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe to be the new lieutenant... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 1:15:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONVILLE - Jesse Viertel Memorial Airport may reach new heights after the city council accepted a bid and authorized a... More >>
1 day ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 12:42:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - City public works crews will be repairing a road buckle on Providence Road between Blue Ridge Road and... More >>
1 day ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 11:39:00 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BALLWIN (AP) — Another bear sighting has people concerned in part of Missouri, but this time, it's deep into... More >>
1 day ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 9:45:39 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY – The Katy Trail will see more bike traffic than usual this week with the 2018 Katy Trail... More >>
1 day ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 7:33:00 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia is under a heat advisory until Monday evening. The National Weather Service issued the advisory on... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 9:29:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 84°
2pm 90°
3pm 90°
4pm 89°
5pm 87°