Missouri judge finds public defenders’ caseload too high

CLAYTON, Mo. – The head judge in St. Louis County has ruled that the public defender’s office has too many cases to effectively represent their clients and ordered a waitlist.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the order Judge Douglas Beach issued Monday also seeks to have private lawyers take on some low-level cases to help ease the workloads of those representing indigent clients.

A statement says the order comes after months of meetings with public defenders, prosecutors, judges, legal associations and law enforcement officers to find ways to reduce public defenders’ workload.

The head of the county’s public defender office has testified that high caseloads could put public defenders at risk of violating the rules of professional conduct by not providing adequate representation for their clients.
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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com