Oregon sued over failure to provide public defenders

Courtroom gavel

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Criminal defendants in Oregon who have gone without public defenders for weeks have filed a lawsuit against the state claiming a violation of their constitutional rights.

The complaint, which seeks a class-action status, was filed in Portland on Monday comes as state lawmakers and the Office of Public Defense Services struggle to address a huge shortage of public defenders.

The system to provide attorneys for criminal defendants who can’t afford them was underfunded and understaffed before COVID-19, but a significant slowdown in the courts during the pandemic pushed Oregon to a breaking point as a backlog of cases flooded courts.



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