According to the Office of the Legislative Auditor, Minnesota’s public defenders handle almost twice the caseload recommended by state and national standards, leaving them inadequately prepared to best serve their clients.
“State budget deficits over the past decade have repeatedly cut into the ranks of public defenders, who operate in each of the state’s 10 judicial districts.” The number of full-time equivalent positions dropped from 423 in 2007 to 369 today.
And now Gov. Tim Pawlenty has recommended cutting the Minnesota Board of Public Defense’s operating budget 3 percent for the rest of this fiscal year and another 3 percent next year, in addition to a 6 percent cut in grant funding for each of those periods.
Are people getting the representation they deserve? Especially those who are poor and cannot afford their own attorneys? Probably not.