By Taxpayers Association of Oregon
The pandemic led many judges and courts in Oregon to delay hearings and filings. Now that things are starting to open up again, the backlog of cases has exposed a shocking lack of staff available in the state’s public defender’s offices. In Multnomah County alone, that means several dozen cases have been dismissed due to the court’s inability to provide a speedy trial for a defendant. KGW reported, “A post-pandemic glut of delayed cases has exposed shocking constitutional landmines impacting defendants and crime victims alike in Oregon, a state with a national reputation for progressive social justice. An acute shortage of public defenders means at any given time at least several hundred low-income criminal defendants don’t have legal representation, sometimes in serious felony cases that could put them away for years. Judges have dismissed nearly four dozen cases in in the Portland area alone — including a domestic violence case with allegations of strangulation — and have threatened to hold the state in contempt. ‘We’re overwhelmed. The pandemic is exposing all the problems that we have,’ said Carl Macpherson, executive director of Metropolitan Public Defender, a large Portland nonprofit public defender firm. ‘It just became abundantly clear that we are broken.’”
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