Presiding Judge Gary Oxenhandler said Thursday the caseload at the Boone County public defender’s office was an “issue that needed to be dealt with."
Oxenhandler arranged a meeting with representatives from the local public defender’s office, a representative from the prosecutor's office and several 13th Judicial Circuit judges on Thursday to discuss ways to lighten public defenders’ caseloads. The meeting was the first of its kind during Oxenhandler's appointment, which began in March.
Oxenhandler said there needs to be a higher threshold for appointing public defenders to cases to lessen the caseloads. “They are a busy office, and we should alleviate the pressure,” he said.
Tony Manansala, district defender for the Columbia Trial Public Defender Office, said some solutions were addressed from both sides — judges and public defenders — that are doable.
“I was encouraged that we started the discussions,” Manansala said.
Oxenhandler proposed another meeting to discuss caseloads in two or three weeks.