Call for public defender overhaul / Patrick seeks to end costly use of private lawyers for the indigent

Source: Andrea Estes, Boston Globe, January 24, 2011

Governor Deval Patrick wants to eliminate the use of private attorneys to represent indigent defendants, an entrenched $200 million system that has been attacked as unfair by prosecutors across the state.

The sweeping measure, which will be contained in the governor’s fiscal year 2012 budget, would end the state’s practice of farming out roughly 90 percent of the work defending poor clients in criminal cases. The state instead would hire about 1,000 full-time staff attorneys to replace the 3,000 private lawyers the state draws on to represent poor people.

Administration officials say the change could slash at least $45 million from the $207 million budget for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state’s public defender agency.

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