PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Courts in Oregon’s Multnomah County, home to Portland, have dismissed nearly 300 cases this year, including felonies, due to a shortage of public defenders.
Mike Schmidt, the county’s top prosecutor, calls the shortage “an urgent threat to public safety” and released a tally showing that more than 700 low-income defendants lack legal representation.
Oregon’s public defender system has shown cracks for years but worsened during the pandemic.
The state has been sued twice this year for failing to provide public defenders in a timely manner.
While the original lawsuit was dismissed, a similar second suit was filed last month.