In 2017, the plaintiffs represented by the ACLU, the MacArthur Justice Center and the California-based Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe alleged "multiple and longstanding systemic deficiencies" in the public defender
have the privilege to stand beside people when they are at their most vulnerable, facing the full force of the government without the resources to respond on their own," she said.
He says there are people calling themselves Public Defenders
, when they are not.
Chief Judge Paul Benshoof denied the request although he found that the Ninth District Public Defender
budget for expert services is completely depleted for the remainder of FY 2019.
Because of the new law, the Public Defender
's Office had to designate an experienced felony attorney to handle those cases.
The group conducted an extensive study of how Mississippi provides lawyers to criminal defendants who can't afford their own, detailing a rickety county-by-county system where low pay may incentivize public defenders
in many counties to skimp on work at the same time that defenders may fear fighting hard for their clients because that might upset judges who appoint them.
A state grant helped launch the local public defender
's office in 2011, but it only represents a small fraction of poor defendants in the county; private lawyers handle the rest of the court appointments.
Grant said CourthouseDogs.org maintains a list of certified and trained dogs placed in justice systems and has confirmed there is not another dog placed in a public defender
"Accordingly, the public defender
's office accomplished the purpose of the rule and Wright's attorney did not have to be relieved."
Smith, a Republican, was first elected public defender
in 2008 and was the only candidate to file.
One reason case refusal may not occur is that many public defender
offices lack independence, meaning that a refusal to accept cases could result in the termination or discipline of the lawyers involved.