Judge in Missouri Aims to Relieve Public Defender Shortage

Oct 5, 2017

A judge in central Missouri has appointed nearly 40 private attorneys to represent criminal defendants after announcing last week that the public defenders' office needed the assistance.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that Boone County Presiding Judge Kevin Crane announced Sept. 27 that the public defenders' office needs help. Public defenders have more representation requests than they can fulfill because of stricter limitations on their caseloads.

Caseloads were limited after an arm of the Missouri Supreme Court that reviews allegations of attorney misconduct recommended suspending an overworked public defender's license. One attorney says others now fear their licenses are threatened if they don't lighten their caseloads.

A private attorney Crane recruited says he doesn't mind helping, but acknowledges the need for more funding for public defenders.