Public defenders handling misdemeanor cases in Allen County, In., must manage a huge caseload with few resources, says the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette. On one recent morning, defender Zachary Witte had 51 new cases plus 10 from the previous Friday, when court was closed. Witte and another lawyer, Lisa Dirig, get a monthly salary of less than $2,000. Last year, misdemeanor public defenders were assigned 2,668 cases and disposed of all but 40 of them. The majority of defendants pled guilty; 12 went to trial.
When told about the caseload, Larry Landis of the Indiana Public Defender Council said, “That’s outrageous. That's very excessive.” The issue is under study by the Indiana Public Defender Commission. Under one extreme, but possible, solution, the commission could cut state reimbursements to counties for non-capital felonies if they do not meet caseload standards for misdemeanors.