State public defender questions plan

Citing State Auditor Tom Schweich’s October report on the state public defender system, state Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, last week promised to get lawmakers next year to “solve the problems of Missouri’s public defender system” by changing the way the system operates.

But state public defender Cat Kelly said Cox didn’t understand the audit correctly.

As of Friday, Cox had not prefiled a bill. But he said earlier in the week: “The bill would reserve state-paid public defenders for more serious crimes, while representation of misdemeanors, probation violations, and other less serious offenses would be contracted out to private counsel who could do the work more efficiently.”

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