Florida Justices Consider Public Defender Dispute
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Supreme Court is considering whether overburdened public defenders can shed some felony cases.
The justices heard oral argument on the issue Thursday.
Miami's public defender is appealing a lower court ruling that his office could not refuse to accept clients to alleviate a crushing workload.
Public defenders represent criminal defendants who cannot afford a private lawyer.
Miami-based Public Defender Carlos Martinez wanted to stop accepting thousands of lesser third-degree felony cases such as auto theft, forgery and battery.
Martinez said he was unable to hire more lawyers because of a series of budget cuts in recent years.
A trial judge agreed with him in 2008 and shifted some cases to another state legal office for indigents, but the 3rd District Court of Appeal reversed that decision.
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