MTPR

Montana Office of the State Public Defender

Missoula County Courthouse.
Cheri Trusler

State budget cuts mean the Office of the State Public Defender is freezing salaries and reducing pay to contractors.

Testifying before the state Legislature’s Law and Justice Interim Committee Tuesday, Harry Freeborn, the head of the Montana public defender's office says the budget that lawmakers and the governor gave him is smaller than in previous years. 

Montana Capitol, Helena, MT.
William Marcus

This week, lawmakers are considering how to fund the Office of the State Public Defender, that provides legal counsel to people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

During the last two days of hearings, attorneys from across the state gathered in a small third floor room in the Capitol, telling lawmakers about budget cuts that they say are adding to their already burdened work.

Gavel.
(PD)

As Montana lawmakers begin hearings this week to figure out how to fund public defenders in the state, attorneys say they don’t have enough resources, and their caseloads are rising.

Gavel.
(PD)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed today to fund new judges for Montana’s burdened court system. But, as lawmakers focus on cutting spending statewide, the future of other services in courts are uncertain.

Shards of methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as crystal meth.
Radspunk (GFDL)

Lawmakers in Helena Wednesday considered a proposal to study how increased reports of meth use in Montana are impacting the state’s social services.

Representative Ellie Hill Smith, a Missoula Democrat, says the state needs to find a solution for, what she describes as, a meth problem that’s draining state resources:

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