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PD Files Suit Claiming Staffing Shortages Led to Rejection of More than 300 Defendants

Posted Apr 11, 2012 9:27 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A public defender in Pennsylvania is taking his battle over staffing shortages to the courts.

Luzerne County chief public defender Al Flora Jr. says in a suit filed on Tuesday that his office has refused to represent more than 300 people who qualified for a public defender. The suit alleges the county “grossly underfunded and thus overwhelmed” the PD’s office, resulting in "sub-constitutional representation" for some, and no representation at all for others, report the Citizens Voice and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The suit requests a lift on a hiring freeze and money for private lawyers for rejected defendants.

The Luzerne County suit was filed on behalf of Flora and three clients by the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Pennsylvania and Dechert, report the Post-Gazette and the Times Leader. A separate suit filed in federal court seeks an injunction barring the county from firing Flora in retaliation for the first suit.

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