Judges Meet to Discuss Public Defender Duties for Private Attorneys
COLUMBIA - Judge Gary Oxenhandler met with associate judges of the 13th Judicial Circuit on Wednesday to discuss conflicts cases from private attorneys assigned to public defender cases in Boone and Callaway Counties. Since the implementation of the new policy at the beginning of the month, 120 private attorneys have been assigned to handle overflow cases.
Speaking to Boone County judges in person and Callaway County judges via videoconference, Oxenhandler stressed that he wants to keep the public defender caseload hours under 100 percent of state-defined capacity. Oxenhandler said if he can stay below 100 percent, he won't have to appoint private attorneys to handle any cases. So far this month, the Boone County public defender's office reached 92.51 percent of its capacity of 1,735 caseload hours. Callaway County, part of which lies within the the 13th Judicial Circuit, reached 67 percent this month.
A prior ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court involving Christian County public defenders led to the implementation of a policy that set a maximum number of caseload hours for public defender's offices throughout the state. District defender David Wallis said previously the policy will help public defenders handle cases more efficiently.
Oxenhandler added that attorneys within the Attorney General's office, prosecuting attorneys in Boone and Callaway Counties, public defenders office and the judiciary are exempt from being assigned overflow cases at this point.
Oxenhandler said he'll know whether or not to re-assign cases to public defenders for this month by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.