More fruitful lawsuits

Court oversight of Allegheny County public defenders ends:

The lawsuit was filed in after newly elected Republican majority county commissioners cut the public defender's already strained budget by nearly a third.

The PD's (helped by the ACLU) sued, alleging that 'severe understaffing, excessive caseloads, inadequate policies and procedures, and other systemic deficiencies' meant that 'significant numbers of indigent persons represented by the office are in imminent danger' of having their Sixth and 14th Amendment rights violated.

On the eve of trial in 1998, an agreement was worked out by the parties -- the county, the ACLU and the United Steelworkers, the union representing the public defenders -- that mandated increased levels of funding and staffing and barred newly hired attorneys from having private practices."

Kick ass!

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