Group urges reforms in Ohio in financing criminal defense of the poor

Group urges reforms in Ohio in financing criminal defense of the poor

COLUMBUS

An Ohio working group considering changes in how defense lawyers are provided for the poor has drafted a proposal that would shift the financial responsibility from counties to the state.

State Public Defender Tim Young tells The Columbus Dispatch counties still could decide exactly how they provide such lawyers. The options include using a county public defender’s office or court-appointed lawyers.

The plan has not yet been given to the Legislature.

Under a decades-old system, counties arrange and pay for lawyers for indigent defendants and are partially reimbursed by the state. Counties were reimbursed at a rate of about 35 percent last year.

The working group’s proposal would put the financial burden on the state and have the public defender’s office oversee the system.

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