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Head of State's Public Defender System is Resigning

The head of Missouri’s public defender system is resigning.

Michael Barrett announced his resignation Thursday after four years as director of the Missouri State Public Defender system. He said he was returning to New York to be closer to family.

The Kansas City Star reports a six-member public defender commission will select a new director.

Barrett has been a vocal critic of the lack of resources for Missouri public defenders and the need for criminal justice reform.

In 2016, he appointed former Gov. Jay Nixon, who is an attorney, to defend a case for a person who couldn’t afford a lawyer. He said the move was a protest of budget cuts for the public defenders office. A judge later ruled that Barrett didn’t have the authority to make the appointment.

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