Public defenders group appeals ruling to high court

Friday, August 27, 2010 | 10:39 a.m. CDT; updated 12:40 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 30, 2010

SPRINGFIELD — The Missouri Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether state public defender offices have the right to temporarily close when caseloads get too high.

The Missouri Public Defender Commission says it took its appeal of a Christian County ruling straight to the high court because it likely would have ended up there anyway.

The commission is appealing a judge's ruling requiring the Springfield public defender office to represent a man charged while the office was not taking new clients.

The Springfield News-Leader reports the judge said refusing to represent the man violates his constitutional rights.

But the commission says continuing to assign cases to overwhelmed public defenders puts the whole criminal justice system at risk.


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