Minnesota Lawyer (subscription required) reports on the bill for public defenders’ funding. The background of the funding for public defenders is as follows.
In 2008, public defenders were funded through attorney’s registration fees. The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld this type of funding. Through this funding, the state Board of Public Defense was able to generate around $1.9 million annually. This request was reapproved in 2011.
However, in December, the state Board of Public Defense withdrew its request to earmark funding from the attorney registration fee. This decision came in December, when various committees and group sections of the Minnesota State Board Association removed its support for the petition.
On Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, the state Senate passed a judiciary funding bill that increases funding for public defenders. The bill provides $5 million for increased employee salary and benefits for public defenders. The bill also provides $5.6 million for new public defenders positions that will reduce caseloads. The Senate bill was passed by 47-18 votes.
The Senate Judiciary Finance Division Chairman Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) stated that the bill helps alleviate a public defender system that is “overworked, overburdened, [and] has some of the biggest caseloads in the country.”