Missouri Public Defender System

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The Missouri Supreme Court is putting a public defender on probation after he admitted to neglecting indigent clients while he dealt with illness and a heavy caseload.

The state's high court on Tuesday put Columbia-based public defender Karl Hinkebein on probation for a year. The court could suspend his license if he doesn't follow his probation.

The case hit on larger concerns that have been raised by the head of the public defender system about underfunding and unmanageable caseloads.

St. Louis Arch
paparutzi / Flickr

Private attorneys in the St. Louis area have committed to take over some cases from the state's overburdened public defender system on a volunteer basis.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a new nonprofit group, called the Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel, is behind the plan. It calls for younger private sector attorneys to handle certain jury cases for indigent defendants in the circuit courts of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Besides reducing public defender caseloads, the young attorneys can gain trial experience.

Jacob Fenston / KBIA

The head of Missouri's public defender system says he is appointing Gov. Jay Nixon to handle a case in protest of declining funding.