Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Public Defender Benefits (King County), Staffing (Skagit County)

Two public defender news items:

A recent class action lawsuit resulted in a ruling that King County public defenders, although termed contractors, are basically employees and should be covered by the state's pension plan. Dolan v. King County, 172 Wn.2d 299, legalwa.org link (2011). See State Supreme Court Rules Public Defenders Deserve Pensions; Seattle Times Editorial Board Embarrasses Itself, Seattle Weekly, Aug. 23, 2011. Now a bill (EHB 2771) seeks to limit the reach of the ruling. Kevin Dolan Lawsuit Over State Benefits for Public Defenders Sparks Controversial Bill, Seattle Weekly, Feb. 21, 2012.

The ACLU of Washington represents three defendants in Skagit County who claim that the public defense provided there is inadequate. The ACLU reports Court Hears Lawsuit over Public Defense System that Fails to Represent Poor People, Feb. 14, 2012. See also Public Defense Almost Non-Existent in Burlington, Mount Vernon, Claims Lawsuit, Seattle Weekly, Feb. 16, 2012.  The case is Wilbur v. City of Mount Vernon, No. C11-01100 (W.D. Wash.). The ACLU has posted two of the plaintiffs' motions.

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