Waiting for public defenders
Nearly 6,000 Missourians were stuck on a state "waitlist" for public defender services in early 2020. In some cases, those defendants waited nearly a year for counsel. After a judge ruled that the waitlist was likely unconstitutional, how has the court system changed?
If you're facing charges in Missouri and found to be indigent, you might qualify for representation from a public defender. But defendants had to wait weeks, months or even a year for those services — sometimes while stuck in jail — after being placed on Missouri's "waitlist." Nearly a year ago, a court said the waitlist was likely unconstitutional, and after months of work, it was finally eliminated in November 2021.
Missouri Public Defender director Mary Fox shared with Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up To Date how the public defender’s office went from a waitlist of thousands to zero in one year’s time.
Kansas City Today is hosted by Nomin Ujiyediin. It is produced by Byron Love with Trevor Grandin and edited by Gabe Rosenberg & Lisa Rodriguez.
You can support Kansas City Today by becoming a KCUR member: kcur.org/donate