Saturday, 10 March 2007

Arizona's Problem

Arizona's Problem

"Ending jam in capital cases to cost in 'millions'", is the title of an article in today's Arizona Republic on Maricopa County's backlog of death penalty cases.

Maricopa County found lawyers on Wednesday for a dozen inmates who face the death penalty.

But the emergency and long-term plans to fix the backlog of capital cases could fall apart unless the county supervisors pump money into the public defender system.

It could ultimately cost "millions" for the county to bulk up the public defender offices and solve the attorney shortage, several officials said.


Several attorneys at Wednesday's hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court, including James Belanger of the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, say the region's crisis may have already paved the way for more litigation because many inmates lacked qualified attorneys for months.

Last week, Judge James Keppel gave prosecutors, defense attorneys and county officials five days to come up with a plan to fix the defense attorney problem.

On Wednesday, the County Manager's Office presented a seven-page plan, which is expected to provide the county with a 60-day supply of death-penalty attorneys.

It includes a plan to monitor death cases more closely, study salary increases and to make sure the cases move through the courts more efficiently.

Wednesday's hearing revealed few details on the most crucial component: funding.

Earlier coverage is here.

No comments: