Many states in America have corrupt or failing public defense systems, and Louisiana has one of the worst ones. For the past ten years, findings have shown that public defender workloads are too high and are resulting in limited time with clients, unprepared cases, and scheduling issues that prevent the criminal and civil courts from operating properly. An East Baton Rouge judge has allowed a class action lawsuit to move forward that is challenging the “constitutional effectiveness” of Louisiana’s public defense system.
What’s Wrong with Louisiana’s Public Defense System?
This lawsuit was filed in February of this year when 13 inmates claimed that their constitutional rights were denied as a result of the failing and under-funded public defense system. The suit was filed on behalf of the inmates’ public defense attorneys.
Louisiana is the only state in the country that depends on traffic ticket revenue, court fees and fines to fund the whole public defense system. Because of this, the system has been broken into two groups; those with enough money to have actual essential representation and those who are poor and just put through the meaningless system of lacking representation. Anyone should be able to receive proper and acceptable legal representation in court, and this lawsuit seeks to reveal this growing issue. The suit also seeks certification from the court for protection for poor Louisiana residents that have faced criminal charges and deserve equal rights to the Constitution. Lastly, the class action suit asks to assign a monitor to supervise the state’s public defense system until it has improved its funding for adequate representation.