For years public defenders in Missouri have been complaining they’ve got too many cases to give their clients a decent defense.  Now, relief may be on the way.

There are two bills pending in the Missouri legislature designed to ease the work load on public defenders.

A bill approved in the House last week calls for private lawyers to handle misdemeanors, traffic cases, probation or parole violations and lower-class felonies for defendants who can’t afford a lawyer.  Public defenders would continue to handle sex crimes and the two most serious classes of felonies.

A separate bill in the Missouri Senate would let a judge decide if a poor defendant needs a public defender for probation and parole violaction cases.  Public defenders would be used for misdemeanors if a prosecutor is asking for jail time.


-Bob Hamilton, KMOX News


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