4:02 am
Wed February 25, 2009

DPA Presses State for Funding

Frankfort, KY – In June of last year, Kentucky's Department of Public Advocacy jointly filed a motion in the Franklin Circuit Court to redress the paltry funding for public defenders. In the face of budget cuts that threaten to cripple the criminal justice system, attorneys have asked the court to expedite the hearing. Carrie Pond has more.

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Attorney Sheryl Snyder says the state's public defenders are "unconstitutionally underfunded." Budget cuts have forced open attorney positions to be left vacant, which, combined with an increasing case load, has made public defenders unable to perform their jobs.

"And that's where the constitutional issue comes in because a person charged with a crime is entitled to a competent lawyer."

If a judge rules in their favor, Snyder says the legislature would be legally required to allot more funding to the court system. He says as it currently stands, the DPA doesn't have sufficient funds to continue operations. The DPA has estimated it will run out of money in late April or early May of this year, which Snyder says would cause the criminal justice system to grind to a halt. The motion is set to be heard on March 13th.