Lawsuit: 4,600 on Missouri public defender ‘wait lists’

(AP) — Civil rights advocates have sued to end Missouri’s use of public defender “wait lists,” a practice they contend deprives thousands of people of their right to court-appointed counsel. A petition filed Wednesday in the Circuit Court of Cole County seeks a court order forcing Missouri to immediately stop the practice by either appointing counsel or dropping charges against criminal defendants who have not been provided a defense attorney. It alleges that more than 4,600 individuals were on growing waiting lists for a defense attorney in Missouri, and about 600 of those are being held in pretrial detention without legal representation.

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