NAPD Kicks off Workloads Conference
In 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court decided Kelly v. Waters, and held that when a public defender office demonstrates it has more cases than its lawyers can handle and provide competent and effective representation, those lawyers must refuse additional appointments. Additionally, judges may not appoint public defenders to represent additional indigent defendants.
In 2014, The American Bar Association and RubinBrown, one of the nation's leading accounting and professional consulting firms, published The Missouri Report, which provided reliable data and analytics establishing that Missouri public defenders have far more cases than they can handle competently.
For the last several years, Michael Barrett, Missouri's Chief Public Defender has used The Missouri Report to produce a budget to the Missouri Legislature, and the legislature has responded with substantial increases in the Missouri public defender's appropriations. However, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed those bills. Barrett made national headlines when he appointed Governor Nixon to represent an indigent defendant in his criminal case.
Recently, Missouri was in the news again as the Missouri Supreme Court disciplined a public defender who could not represent his clients diligently and competently because of excessive workload.
Missouri is not alone. Excessive public defender caseloads are at a crisis level in many states around the nation, including New Mexico, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. This conference will feature speakers from many of these hotspots who have had experience with resisting excessive public defender caseloads.
Members of the media who wish to attend plenary sessions of the conference can contact NAPD prior to the conference at firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests for interviews will be accommodated.