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Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - 1:17pm

Several Lawsuits Filed Against State's Public Defenders System

Underfunding for Georgia’s public defenders system has resulted in several lawsuits.

One lawsuit filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights contends the state systemically fails to appoint lawyers for poor defendants. The Southern Center is asking that cases against hundreds of defendants in Northern Georgia be dismissed.

In another lawsuit, accused murderer Jamie Weis says he went two years without a lawyer as prosecutors prepared a death penalty case against him. He is also asking for his case to be dismissed.

Sara Totonchi, with the Southern Center for Human Rights, says the lawsuits reflect the financial problems of the public defenders system.

“The public defenders system has survived a series of massacres to their funding over the last several years, which has now left their funding at the lowest it has ever been,” Totonchi says.

Meanwhile, yet another lawsuit has been filed protesting the $50 application fee defendants must pay to get a public defender.

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