Bill could give relief to public defenders - if Gov. Nixon signs

May 31, 2013

Credit Joe Gratz / Flickr

Legislation that could ease the caseload of Missouri public defenders is being considered by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The measure would allow the public defender system to ask the presiding judge of a judicial circuit for a conference to discuss caseload issues. The judge could decide whether to grant relief in a particular case.

Public defenders handle cases for defendants who cannot afford private attorneys and face possible incarceration.

Joel Elmer is a division director for the public defender system. He says the measure is a reasonable alternative to other proposals aimed at cutting the public defender's workload. Other plans would have required the system to contract out to private attorneys for certain cases.