Discrete. Effective. Aggressive.
Trial Attorneys
Free Case Evaluation

Missouri public defenders face crippling caseloads

This summer the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that public defenders may refuse new cases if they cannot handle the ones they have. At first, it sounds like a disaster for people who are accused of crimes and cannot afford a defense attorney. But it could pave the way for longer-term solutions for the state's overloaded criminal justice system.

The court's ruling shines a light on the failing combination of high caseloads and limited state resources. Public defenders in Missouri are swamped by constantly-growing caseloads, sometimes handling up to 200 criminal matters at a time. It's an impossible burden to maintain. How the state handles its "caseload crisis" could have lasting implications for the state's justice system, financial resources and prison population.

Everyone in the United States has certain fundamental rights if they are accused of a crime. These include the right to a thorough and vigorous defense by an attorney, whether privately retained or provided by the state. Unfortunately, public defenders are not able to provide a thorough defense to each case if they are handling hundreds at once.

Turning away criminal defendants is clearly not a viable long-term solution. If it goes on it could violate the constitutional rights of the accused and possibly create a backlog of even more cases. Short of hiring more public defenders, the state could lighten their burden by cutting down the number of cases going through the criminal justice system.

This could involve revisiting which crimes carry a possibility of jail time. Any offense that could result in a prison sentence, however short the sentence or unlikely that it will occur, entitles lower-income defendants to a public defender. Missouri's prisons currently hold about 14,000 non-violent offenders, nearly double what they did 15 years ago. Re-classifying some non-violent offenses could lighten the loads of public defenders and help preserve justice for those accused of less serious crimes.

Source: St. Louis Public Radio, "Public Defenders Can Now Refuse Cases - But Seek Long-Term Solution," Maria Altman, Sep. 26, 2012

Our firm handles all facets of criminal defense for those accused of DWI. For more information, please visit our St. Louis DWI Defense page.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Real Results

Winning Cases They Say Can't Be Won

Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

Contact Travis Noble | Free Consultations

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Travis L. Noble, Jr.
Rated by Super Lawyers

loading ...
Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in St. Louis

Past results afford no guarantee of future results and every case is different and must be judged on its own merits. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. This disclosure is required by rule of the Supreme Court of Missouri.

At Travis Noble, P.C. we value your feedback. Click here to write us a review:

Write Us a Review
TN - Travis Noble - Attorneys at Law

8000 Maryland Avenue, Suite 910
St. Louis, MO 63105
St. Louis Law Office Map

Free Consultations
Phone: 314-450-7849
Toll Free: 866-794-0947
Click Here to Pay Your Invoice
Credit Cards Accepted