Oregon is once again being sued over the state’s troubled public defense system, which has left hundreds of people facing criminal charges without the court-appointed attorneys that they’re entitled to under the US Constitution.
As of Wednesday, roughly 831 people in Oregon were facing criminal charges without attorneys, according to the Oregon Judicial Department. Of those, 45 people were in custody without an attorney.
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This is the second attempt this year by civil rights attorneys to sue the state over its failure to provide attorneys, “in clear violation of basic standards of justice and long-settled state and federal law,” as the most recent lawsuit states. The original lawsuit was dismissed after a judge ruled that she didn’t have jurisdiction to even hear the case, let alone determine it was a class action. She was also unwilling to make a declaration that the defendants’ rights were being violated.
Like the previous lawsuit, this new complaint was filed by attorneys working with the nonprofit Oregon Justice Resource Center. It was filed on Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court on behalf of the four defendants charged with crimes and who cannot afford an attorney. Despite the four asking for public defenders to handle their cases, the lawsuit states, Oregon did not appoint attorneys for any of them.
In addition to the state of Oregon, the lawsuit names Jessica Kampfe, who was hired less than a week ago