#LocalGovMatters – State Public Defender Funding

This week Gwyn is joined by Kelli Thompson, the State Public Defender, and Bayfield County Circuit Court Judge John Anderson.

The podcast starts with Thompson explaining how the State Public Defender’s office works – who qualifies for a State Public Defender attorney, and how they become involved in the legal process.

In September Gwyn wrote a piece for The Wheeler Report about counties passing resolutions asking the state to fund the State Public Defenders office and to increase pay for private bar attorneys who agree to take State Public Defender cases.  Judge Anderson explains why this is has become such a big issue in the legal system in Wisconsin and why the lack of funding from the state has become an “unfunded mandate” on the counties to pay for legal representation which should be covered by the state.  Currently, 19 counties have passed resolutions, another dozen or so are expected to pass resolutions in the next several weeks.  The Wisconsin Counties Association has agreed this is one of their major issues to address in the next state budget.  Thompson says the state is at “crisis” levels.

Thompson, Judge Anderson and Gwyn spend most of the podcast talking about what is happening with private bar attorneys – when they will or won’t help the public defenders office, how much they get paid for helping the public defenders office vs. being appointed by a county judge, and how this is impacting all areas of the state.