After repeated budget cuts, Missouri's underfunded Public Defender drafts the Governor to work for him

Brother Phil writes, "The Public Defender's Office in Missouri is chronically underfunded by a governor who can always find money for his pet projects. However, they do have the power to draft any lawyer to serve as the defense in a case if they don't have one spare.Guess who just happens to be a lawyer…"

Missouri's indigent defense system ranks 49th in the nation. The budget for the system has fallen in real terms since 2009, and faced cuts of $3.47M in 2015. The governor has not cut "a single dollar" from his own budget.

The DoJ, meanwhile, has cited Missouri for subjecting poor black children to a "systematic deprivation of their rights" due to insufficient funding for the public defender's office.

Up to this point, the Public Defender, Michael Barrett, has refrained from drafting lawyers out of private practice to serve in his office (as statute empowers him to do), because he believes that attorneys who haven't contributed to the current crisis should not have to bear the burden of it. However, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, is "the one attorney in the state who not only created the problem, but is in a unique position to address it."

Go man go!

(Image: Governor Jay Nixon, Mobikefed, CC-BY)