PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon faces a dire shortage of public defenders and as a result, nearly three dozen criminal cases have been dismissed in Portland in recent weeks.
Oregon’s Supreme Court chief justice is asking Gov. Kate Brown and legislative leaders to convene a summit to address the crisis.
Because of pandemic court closures, public defenders face a backlog of cases and aren’t taking new clients. Cases can’t be heard unless the defendant has an attorney and several hundred people are in custody without representation.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt says the justice system is “nearing the point of breakage.”