FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The state's public defenders have gone to
court in an effort to force the General Assembly to appropriate
more money to pay for the legal defense of the poor.
The Department of Public Advocacy and Louisville and Jefferson
County Public Defender Corp. filed a lawsuit Monday seeking
permission to decline additional indigent clients when representing
them would create excessive case loads.
Department of Public Advocacy director Ernie Lewis said the
General Assembly failed to provide sufficient funding this year to
pay for public defenders. He said the jobs of up to 60 trial
attorneys will be cut as a result.
The lawsuit also calls for judges to appoint alternative
attorneys who would be paid by the state when caseloads force
public defenders to turn away clients.
The lawsuit names Gov. Steve Beshear's finance secretary,
Jonathan Miller, and state Treasurer Todd Hollenbach as defendants,
along with two legislative leaders. Hollenbach said he hasn't yet
seen the lawsuit. Miller didn't immediately return a call seeking
Lewis said the legal action was necessary, though disappointing.