Missouri High Court Examines Public Defender Caseloads

6 years 11 months 5 days ago Tuesday, December 13 2011 Dec 13, 2011 Tuesday, December 13, 2011 3:35:31 AM CST December 13, 2011 in News
By: Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) -- The Missouri Supreme Court again is focusing on the caseloads of public defenders.

The court was to consider an appeal Tuesday concerning state public defender polices intended to prevent lawyers from becoming overworked.

Local defender offices determine maximum caseloads, and officials can take action when that maximum has been exceeded three consecutive months. If agreements are not reached with local prosecutors and judges, public defenders can temporarily refuse new cases.

Public defenders contend lawyers are overworked and that excessive caseloads compromise their ability to represent clients

Concern over Missouri's public defender system is not new. State lawmakers have examined it, and the state high court ruled in 2009 that public defenders cannot turn away certain categories of criminal defendants because of high caseloads.

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