Groups slam Louisiana’s public defender system in lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A lawsuit is slamming Louisiana’s system to defend poor people, describing defendants waiting months in jail to see their lawyers, and lawyers who are woefully overworked.

Two legal rights groups and two law firms filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of 13 defendants currently in jail.

They are suing Gov. John Bel Edwards, members of the Louisiana Public Defender Board and the state’s chief public defender.

The lawsuit claims public defenders are regularly carrying two to five times recommended caseloads and money for public defense is inadequate and unreliable.

They want a monitor to supervise the public defense system. They’re also asking for an injunction barring the state from maintaining a public defense system that fails to give defendants “constitutionally adequate representation.”

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