Public defenders’ caseloads over capacity

Starting in October, Cole County will be among 17 Missouri counties where cases that come to the public defender’s office will be tracked based on the number of attorney hours needed to handle those cases.

Under rules the Public Defender Commission put in place in 2008, when a public defender’s office reaches its maximum caseload for the month, it will go on limited availability and turn away excess cases.

The Jefferson City office covers Cole, Miller, Moniteau and Osage counties. Earlier this week, judges in the 13th Circuit, which covers Boone and Callaway counties, announced they may be assigning private attorneys to provide free legal representation in those counties.

Judges in Cole County are meeting to decide what ....

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