Hearing Friday on defender’s refusal to take cases

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The public will have a chance to weigh in on the Missouri Public Defender Office’s efforts to manage caseloads by occasionally refusing new cases.

The Supreme Court has asked retired Circuit Judge Miles Sweeney to hold a public hearing Friday in Springfield to gather evidence for a report on the controversial tactic.

The refusal to take cases — and a Christian County judge’s decision to require a Springfield public defender office to take a case — has been appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Missouri Supreme Court spokeswoman Beth Riggert says the court does not take evidence but reviews evidence that has been presented somewhere else — usually at a trial.

The Springfield News Leader reports that in the public defenders’ case, little evidence exists for a court review. The public hearing Friday at the Greene County Judicial Center is designed to provide some legal records for the court to consider.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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