There is a nationwide shortage of public defenders. The shortage is especially acute in Oregon. There are several reasons for this, the main one appearing to be a lack of funding. This has led to the abrogation of the constitutional right to have an attorney for at least 500 defendants and to unconstitutionally long detentions of some of them. At least 300 cases in Multnomah County alone have been dismissed; there simply was no one to represent the defendants, preventing the criminal cases from legally proceeding.
According to Mike Schmidt, the Multnomah County District Attorney, “This is a public defender crisis.“ Carl Macpherson, Executive Director of Metropolitan Public Defender in Portland, commented on OPB’s Think Out Loud, “This is a total public safety system failure.”
Please join us to hear a panel of experts discuss this important issue.