Missouri’s Top Prosecutor Objects To Public Defender’s Plan

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s top prosecutor says a proposal to reduce the workloads of attorneys who represent indigent defendants doesn’t protect the interests of the public.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt raised concerns Tuesday about the deal between the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the public defender system. It’s part of a proposed settlement to a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU more than two years ago. The lawsuit alleged that by failing to adequately fund and staff the public defender system, Missouri hadn’t met its constitutional obligation to provide poor defendants with meaningful legal representation.

The proposed settlement would allow public defenders to turn down cases in order to stay within a time limit based on how much work should be spent defending different types of crimes.