Underfunded Public Defenders Forced to Cut Services

Posted on Dec 22, 2010 in Courts, Local Issues

The Orleans Parish public defender’s office has been underfunded for years, but what was a cause for concern has now become a crisis. The office has instituted a hiring freeze, initiated plans to reduce legal representation, and cut pay to management employees in order remain within its shriveling budget.

Photo Courtesy of stateline.org

As grants given to the office after Hurricane Katrina have begun to run out, the office has been imploring the state for more funding but with little success. To fill the gap left by the waning grants, at the end of each fiscal year the state public defender board has scoured its own budget for any remaining funds. However, this year there was simply no money left over to prop up the Orleans Parish office.

The office is underfunded partly because Orleans Parish judges have failed to impose the mandatory thirty-five dollar fee on guilty defendants which helps to support the public defender’s budget. The Louisiana Public Defender Board has filed a lawsuit in an effort to make the judges impose the fee.

Public defenders in municipal and traffic court will now have a workload twice the size of last year’s forcing a drop in the quality of representation. For an experienced attorney who will give your case the time and personal attention it needs, call Bloom Legal at 599-9997.

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