Governor Nixon has rejected a plan to give Missouri’s heavily-burdened Public Defender System some relief.
Forget about the bill that would have let Public Defenders refuse to take more cases than they can adequately handle. Governor Nixon has vetoed it. He says it would have just transferred responsibilities of public defenders to the courts or to other parts of the legal system….
Deputy director Kathy Kelly of the state Public Defender office says that was the goal…She says Public Defenders have ethical and professional obligations to take no more cases than they can effectively handle. But the law requires them to do that, although they are risking professional discipline for providing ineffective counsel.
Kelly says it’s good to know the Governor understands there is a crisis in the public defender system, which she says needs more than 50 percent more lawyers.
The issue is not really dead, though. The Public Defender System has a rule that does about the same thing the bill would have done.Sometime this fall the state supreme court will hold a hearing on the validity of that rule.