Monday, July 20, 2015

ACLU Sues Fresno County and State over Public Defense Funding

The American Civil Liberties Union Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Fresno County and the State of California claiming the county’s public defense system is underfunded, thus preventing public defenders from adequately representing their clients. The ACLU says that situation violates the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees the right for every citizen to a fair and speedy trial and effective legal representation. According to the lawsuit, public defense attorneys in Fresno County carry caseloads that are three to four times the professional standard, making it difficult to provide a satisfactory defense for individual clients. Fresno County officials deny that anyone’s Constitutional rights have been violated as a result of staffing levels in the public defender’s office. Pacifica’s Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.