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State's Highest Court Won't Hear Johnson Co. Public Defender Case

The Indiana Supreme Court won't hear a case that claims Johnson County's public defense system is depriving defendants of their constitutional rights by providing inadequate legal services.

Attorneys filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of seven people facing criminal charges in the county in 2015. It claims county commissioners knew public defenders were handling too many cases at once, but that they did nothing to address the problem.

The lawsuit names county commissioners, judges and public defenders as defendants.

Attorneys wanted the state's highest court to take the case up, after the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit. The Supreme Court denied transfer of the case.

"If there's any doubt that there's one system of justice for the rich and one system of justice for everybody else, the Supreme Court settled that on Friday," says Attorney Jonathan Little, who is one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case.

A similar case is pending in federal court that challenges Allen County's public defense system.

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