SPRINGFIELD — The issue of whether Missouri's public defender system can decline to take new cases when caseloads get too high will have to go to an appeals court before it can be heard by the Missouri Supreme Court, the state high court said Monday.
The Missouri Public Defender Commission had appealed a judge's decision that required the Springfield office to represent a man even though the office said it wouldn't take new clients. The appeal went directly to the Supreme Court in an effort to expedite a decision.
The Springfield News-Leader reports that the Supreme Court cited a rule requiring that all cases, with a few exceptions, go through an appellate court.
In its Supreme Court filing, the commission argued that the criminal justice system could be in danger if courts continue to assign cases to public defenders beyond caseload limits.