State public defenders not happy about court hearing

During a Christian County hearing Tuesday a circuit court judge upheld a ruling he made last week, requiring the public defender's office in Springfield Missouri to defend a 22 year old male.

"The Supreme Court came down with a ruling that said we could not deny categories of cases, that if we're to reach a maximum we're to deny cases, and we had to deny all cases, Director of Missouri Public Defenders Marty Robinson said.

The judge's decision was met with frustration by the Missouri Bar and the state public defenders.

"We think we're following the ruling of the Supreme Court, we think we're following the law, and we think we are following the rules, but the prosecutor and judge of Christian County disagrees. So will litigate again, Robinson said.

Robinson feels that the prosecutors pushing this just want to have someone to prosecute, but Missouri Bar President Skip Walther doesn't agree.

"It's unfortunate that the conversation has devolved into one pending prosecutors against public defenders, because again I don't think that's the issue, the issue is access to justice in the state, Missouri Bar President Skip Walther said.

Public defenders use a screening process to decide how many cases they can accept. For example, a murder case would take more time and resources than a traffic violation.

"You have to look at the type of case, you have to look at the experience of the attorneys involved, and what other work they have that they must perform, Walther said.

Walther said it comes down to a matter of money, and said the Missouri General Assembly could fix the problem by giving more funds to public defenders so that they can hire more attorneys.