Lawsuit Says Missouri Public Defender System Faces ‘Urgent Constitutional Crisis’


“The 80,000 cases are parceled out among just 370 public defenders statewide. The lawsuit, and numerous studies that have evaluated the Missouri public defender system, say the system should have nearly twice that many lawyers to meet standards set by the American Bar Association (ABA) for the minimal time needed to adequately represent clients.
Without sufficient funding, the lawsuit says, Missouri’s public defenders average just 8.7 hours on the most serious non-homicide felonies – less than 20 percent of the minimum time recommended by the ABA.
“Overall, they are forced to devote fewer than the minimum hours recommended by the ABA in more than 97 percent of their cases,” the suit states.”