Facing increasingly heavy caseloads, the Kentucky public defender’s office has filed suit seeking more state money for lawyers to represent poor people in criminal cases, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. The Department of Public Advocacy’s suit asks for more funding or an order that would force the state to hire private defense attorneys if public defenders can’t take new cases. The suit came a day before the start of the fiscal year, when the agency must begin implementing cuts because of a $2.3 million reduction in its $40.1 million budget.
Sen. Charlie Borders, chairman of the Senate budget committee, said the budget reduction for public advocacy is similar to cuts imposed on most state agencies. “If a program can get the job done at $40 million, I’ve got to believe it can still get the job done at $37-point-something million,” Borders said. “These are tough times. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and look for more efficient ways to do things. That’s not unusual for businesses, it’s not unusual for households.”