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Public Defenders in 7 States Fight Overburdened Caseloads

The New York Times reports that public defenders in seven states are refusing to accept new cases or have filed lawsuits due to overburdened case loads which prevent them from providing effective assistance of counsel.

Public defenders are notoriously overworked, and their turnover is high and their pay low. But now, in the most open revolt by public defenders in memory, many of the government-appointed lawyers say that state budget cuts and rising caseloads have pushed them to the breaking point.

The caseload in Miami-Dade, Florida:

Over the last three years, the average number of felony cases handled by each lawyer in a year has climbed to close to 500, from 367, officials said, and caseloads for lawyers assigned to misdemeanor cases have risen to 2,225, from 1,380.

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