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Friday, December 16, 2011 - 1:15pm

State Settles Indigent Defense Suit

The Southern Center for Human Rights says a settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit involving appeals by indigent Georgia defendants.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in 2009 were calling for the state to make changes to make sure hundreds of defendants have lawyers to represent them in their appeals.

They say budget cuts had left the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Counsel with inadequate staff to represent those convicted of crimes.

They say the settlement announced Friday requires the GPDSC to hire seven additional appeals attorneys and implement a system that monitors the caseloads.

Plaintiffs also say the agreement also creates a process for hiring attorneys that includes a thorough review of their qualifications.

The Public Defenders Standards Counsel did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

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