Judge Defers Ruling On Public Defenders' Ask To Stop Cases

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans judge is deferring until mid-December a decision on whether to stop assigning cases to the overloaded lawyers responsible for defending the city's poor.

         The Orleans Public Defenders office asked Judge Arthur L. Hunter Friday during a hearing to stop assigning cases to it because they're overburdened.

         Monday, Hunter said he found the evidence compelling but could not offer a remedy at this time.

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         He said the public defenders' office had not taken such steps as telling the court they wouldn't take more clients.

         That appears to put the onus on the public defenders to stop taking cases, instead of the judge making that decision for them.

         The next hearing is set for Dec. 11.

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