More than one quarter of Minnesota public defenders will be laid off Aug. 10 because of a funding shortfall, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. “If we are forced to make these cuts, the state’s judicial system will suffer tremendous delays and, in some places, come to a complete standstill,” said State Public Defender John Stuart. “Public defenders in Minnesota already handle more than double the national caseload standards, so they will not be able to absorb the cases of those attorneys who are laid off.”
The state plans to lay off 140 lawyers from its statewide total of 380 full-time equivalents. Public defenders handle 175,000 cases a year, including 85 percent of all felonies, 90 percent of juvenile cases and half of misdemeanor cases.