October 11, 2004

Caseload to Borg: "Resistance is futile"

I really, really feel for this colleague in Missoula: Posted by Hello

"On Aug. 4, the Missoula County Public Defender's Office essentially stopped taking new cases. The office was down four attorneys from a full staff of 11, and the lawyers were utterly overwhelmed, said Chief Public Defender Margaret Borg. Several months ago, Borg realized she and her staff had lost control of their caseloads and needed help.

"Borg was having trouble both retaining lawyers and hiring replacements for the ones she seemed to always be losing. The work is hard, the caseloads are overwhelming and the pay is hardly what's available in the private sector, she said. The office is also part of a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union has filed, alleging the state of Montana is not adequately representing indigent defendants.

"So on top of everything else, you've got the ACLU going into the jail and telling our clients we're not representing them well," Borg said. "It makes it hard to attract people to the office."

So about 80 private attorneys have been dragooned to help.

Then, when the county commissioners move to alleviate the problem of p.d. recruitment and retention, who b*tches about parity but the prosecutor, traditionally the higher-paid side of the courtroom?