“The court is not sympathetic because the person was notified of their court date weeks before.”
As of the end of September, the Public Defender’s Office caseload was at 691, plus it handled more than 100 parole appeals.
The Conflict Defender’s Office had a caseload of 480 clients, with 148 cases assigned to private attorneys when the Public Defender’s Office could not represent the person for various reasons.
To combat the problems, Soucia has been awarded a total of $74,000 in indigent-legal-services funding in the past two years for investigative help, arraignment appearances and computer upgrades.
And his office has until Oct. 18 to apply for the maximum of $100,000 for a three-year competitive-grant program to hire more staff investigators.
In the meantime, he is working to educate people. If they get in legal trouble and believe they are eligible for free help, they should contact his office with by telephone, email, fax or stop by in person.
“We want to make sure everyone in Franklin County gets the services they are entitled to,” Soucia said.
Email Denise A. Raymo:email@example.com
The Assigned Counsel Office of the Franklin County Public Defender's Office is on the second floor of the County Courthouse, Suite 237, and can be reached by calling 481-1423. The fax number is 481-1425, and the website is www.franklincony.org.