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Missouri case needs to be reviewed by the Supreme Court

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This past Sunday the Springfield News-Ledger ran an important set of stories on Missouri's failure to provide justice in a timely fashion to a large number of its residents and imprisoned peoples.  The front page story on Sunday (February 6, 2011) in the News-Ledger was entitled "A System in Shackles" and the entire tale reminded me of the judicial system in Texas that had sent a friend of mine to jail some years ago.

The author of the Missouri article was by Kathryn Wall and was subtitled, "When public defenders stopped taking cases, Jared Blacksher became an unwitting poster boy for an overtaxed system."

Blaksher's eventual chance for release from and possible justice in Missouri--i.e. in a state where he has yet to be convicted of the charge he has been sitting for 9 months--will likely hinge on what the USA Supreme Court eventually says.

Missouri Public Defenders [1] have gone on strike this past year due to the fact they cannot handle the current caseload making it even harder for those charged with crimes to get a fair trial in Missouri.   The same situation reigns in Texas and numerous other USA states.

Here is the rest of Kathryn Wall's important article.


Jared Blacksher is sitting in jail without a lawyer or much hope of getting out anytime soon.

Now in his seventh month waiting, Blacksher watches his case work its way through the Supreme Court.

It has reached that level not because of the accusations against him, or a claim of innocence. Attorneys in his case aren't fighting a conviction or an error in litigation. They're fighting a battle that will impact the criminal justice system across the state and that mirrors disputes elsewhere in the nation.

Statewide, lawyers working in the public defender system were assigned more than 81,000 cases in the 2010 fiscal year. They say they simply have too large a caseload for the 368 attorneys in the system to handle.

Though prosecutors disagree, public defenders fear they are jeopardizing their own clients. They say they cannot give them the time they deserve for fair representation.

As the two sides argue their positions, Blacksher is caught in the middle.

It's a debate he can do nothing to remedy.

"I've been having to sit in jail knowing nothing, pretty much," he said in an interview in the Christian County Jail.

Public defenders are appointed to represent clients who can't afford to pay for their own attorneys, a constitutional mandate they say has become more and more difficult to meet with growing caseloads and state budget woes.

Although others working in the criminal justice system dispute the way public defenders cite caseload numbers to claim they are overworked, those on both sides of the debate agree that a lack of proper representation for any client creates a breakdown of the criminal justice system.

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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