STODDARD COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - In Stoddard County, a public defender's refusal to take on new criminal clients earlier this month leads to a ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court.
According to Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver, the high court ruled public defenders cannot refuse defendants without following proper procedures.
"This Supreme Court ruling is a significant and vital victory to ensure that our criminal justice system does not shut down, not only in Stoddard County, but across the entire state of Missouri," Oliver said. "The Supreme Court has made very clear through this ruling that the relief the Public Defenders are seeking must be done through the correct statutory procedures, which the Missouri legislature passed after extensive input from the public defenders and for their benefit in 2013. This means that the entire court system, the judges, the prosecutors and the public defenders will be involved in the discussion, rather than one person making the unilateral decision to shut down the courts."
Oliver says several public defenders across the state announced Sept. 28, 2017 they wouldn't be accepting any new clients due to already excessive caseloads.