Report: Low Pay And Fear Of Judges Handcuff Public Defenders

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A study commissioned by a Mississippi task force finds major failings in the state’s rickety system of providing lawyers to indigent people accused of crimes.

Released Monday, the study by the Sixth Amendment Center finds lawyers appointed by judges fear upsetting those who employ them by fighting hard for clients, that people fall into a “black hole” while jailed between arrest and indictment, and that defenders’ pay may cause them to skimp on work.

Authors call for the state to find ways to better pay lawyers, which could require an increase in state spending. It also calls for Mississippi to track caseloads and ban arrangements where lawyers are paid a set amount to represent an unlimited number of clients, an arrangement many counties use to employ part-time public defenders.

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Categories: State News

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