Seven criminal defendants, including armed robbery suspects, an alleged rapist, and an accused murderer, have requested a New Orleans judge release them from custody since they have been incarcerated for months awaiting representation from public defenders, thereby violating their constitutional rights.
Defenders assigned to the defendants from the cash-poor Orleans Public Defenders (OPD) office have all either resigned without being replaced or have withdrawn from their cases due to inadequate funding. Attorney Carter, who is representing one of the defendants on a pro bono basis, commented on the matter, saying “If there's no money from the public defenders' office to provide investigators or testing or just to pay for transcripts from previous hearings, then my client is put at a disadvantage.”
The seven inmates named in the petition are likely only a fraction of the total number of unrepresented jailed defendants in the other 11 sections of Criminal District Court. Tulane University law professor Pamela Metzger, who was appointed to handle the defendants’ due process claims, advocates that the defendants have suffered enormous harm as a result of their incarceration, as they are left helpless without the ability to work or seek representation. Metzger went on to point out that this is the fourth time in 10 years that indigent Orleans Parish defendants have been told that the state could not afford to fund their defense.Check out the full story here: