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Public defenders to begin turning away clients

By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, Mo. – On Wednesday, some public defenders in Missouri will start turning away clients. Public defenders represent people accused of crimes who are unable to pay for their own attorneys.

People accused of violating the terms of their probation could be ineligible for a public defender. And people charged with certain traffic crimes will not get a public attorney either.

The authority to turn down cases comes from a rule passed in July by the Missouri Public Defender Commission.

The measure allows offices to begin refusing cases if they exceed their maximum caseload capacities for three consecutive months.

All the state's public defender offices have more cases than they can handle, and many have high staff turnover.

On Wednesday, the offices in Springfield, Jefferson City and Columbia will be the first to begin enforcing the rule.

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