New Mexico judge rules against underfunded public defenders
Feb. 18, 2017
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state district court judge in southeastern New Mexico has rejected arguments by public defense attorneys that they are too overloaded with work to provide adequate representation to poor defendants facing jail time.
District Judge William Shoobridge of Lea County said in an order released Friday that attorneys with the Law Offices of the Public Defender have been providing reasonably competent representation to indigent defendants in the area despite financial pressures.
The order is a setback for the Office of the Public Defender as it seeks to suspend work on some indigent cases while seeking more state funding.
Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur says his office is weighing an appeal to the state Supreme Court and that he would continue to raise issues of high caseloads and lack of resources.