Lawsuit challenges Indiana county that allows judges to pick public defenders

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By: Associated Press

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FRANKLIN, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana county faces a lawsuit challenging its system of having judges hire the attorneys who serve as public defenders in criminal cases.

The lawsuit filed against Johnson County officials argues that at least one part-time public defender has a caseload more than double the level recommended by the state public defender council. The Daily Journal reports the lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of defendants who say they’ve received inadequate representation.

Attorney Jonathan Little says the lawsuit aims to have the system of judges picking public defenders ruled unconstitutional. Officials say 40 of Indiana’s 92 counties use that method, while the others have an independent board that hires public defenders.

A telephone message from The Associated Press for the Johnson County attorney wasn’t immediately returned Friday.