Last year, the Public Defender Agency warned that forcing attorneys to handle 160 cases would create a constitutional crisis in Alaska’s criminal justice system. An attorney just walked away from a high-profile murder case because she was handling more than 200 cases.
The flu season is taking its toll on the Alaska Legislature, but work hasn’t slowed much.
Without the additional funding, public defenders would be working beyond their ethical limit leading to slowdowns, delays and mistakes.
An underfunded Public Defender Agency could lead to slower resolutions of cases, longer time in jail, mistakes and a violation of the Sixth Amendment.