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Judge: Missouri public defender system is overloaded

A central Missouri judge says the caseload for her county's public defenders is so big that something must be done to ensure clients are given adequate representation. (MGN Online)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A central Missouri judge says the caseload for her county's public defenders is so big that something must be done to ensure clients are given adequate representation.

The News Tribune reports that Cole County Presiding Judge Pat Joyce made her finding Tuesday after public defender Justin Carver testified that attorneys within his district are "overburdened with cases."

Carver suggests that options under state law could include bringing in lawyers from outside of the public defender system.

County prosecutor Mark Richardson says another hearing must be held to allow his office to respond with possible solutions.

Missouri's Public Defender's Office is appointed to criminal cases when there's a possible jail or prison sentence and the defendant can't afford a lawyer.

Joyce set a hearing for next week to work on a solution.

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