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Appeal Planned On Lawsuit Challenging Public Defender System

Defendants no longer hold the burden of proof for why they should be allowed bail.

An attorney is planning to ask the state Supreme Court to consider whether a central Indiana county’s public defender system is violating the rights of indigent defendants to an adequate legal defense.

The lawsuit challenging Johnson County’s system as leaving public defenders with too many cases was filed in 2015. The state appeals court issued a ruling Dec. 29 upholding a judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit, saying it didn’t claim that the public defenders were forced to take more cases than they could handle.

Attorney Jonathan Little tells the Daily Journal that the county’s system of judges choosing public defenders is unfair to poor defendants. He says at least 30 of Indiana’s 92 counties use such a system. Little represents seven defendants in the lawsuit.

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