Report: Idaho public defenders get just four hours per case

Posted at 12:25 PM, Feb 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-13 14:25:27-05

A draft study by the Idaho Public Defense Commission shows the state's public defenders spend a tiny fraction of the time that they need to provide proper representation to poor people caught in the criminal justice system.

The Associated Press obtained an early version of the study through a public records request. The study not yet been finalized, though commissioners said the numbers won't change in the final version.

The study found that public defenders have such a large workload that they can only spend about four hours on each felony case, even though they reported they need about ten times that -- roughly 38 hours -- to provide effective counsel.

A separate group of private attorneys was also surveyed. They told researchers nearly 68 hours should be spent on felony cases.

Idaho is currently embroiled with a class-action lawsuit brought by four Idaho residents who said they were denied the right to a fair trial because of Idaho's underfunded and faulty public defense system.

(by Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press)