On The Docket


Delicious Revenge: Missouri Governor Cuts Funding to Public Defenders, Director Responds by Assigning Governor as New Public Defender.

In a wonderfully worded letter, Public Defender Director Michael Barrett lays out a series of grievances against the Governor’s budget slashing measures, bringing up again and again reasons why the Public Defender’s office should not be subject to extreme budget cuts, but then going even further by exercising a legal right. Check this paragraph out:

… I can only hire attorneys when I have the funding to do so. Because you have restricted that funding, MSPD must hold a significant number of vacant positions open to have the necessary funds to make it through the fiscal year, a task which is exacerbated by a 12% increase in cases over the year prior. To avoid having to close one or more offices, the remaining option is to consider the use of Section 600.042.5, which gives the Director of the Public Defender System the authority to “[d]elegate the legal representation of any person to any member of the state bar of Missouri.”

You got that? The director can assign any attorney as a public defender.

Who do you think Barrett assigned?

…given the extraordinary circumstances that compel me to entertain any and all avenues for relief, it strikes me that I should begin with the one attorney in the state who not only created this problem, but is in a unique position to address it.

Therefore, pursuant to Section 600.042.5 and as Director of the Missouri State Public Defender System tasked with carrying out the State’s obligation to ensure that poor people who face incarceration are afforded competent counsel in their defense, I hereby appoint you, Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Bar No. 29603, to enter your appearance as counsel of record in the attached case.


We will watch this with interest, and hope that the Judges force Governor Nixon to comply with the law in this.

Read the entire letter here:




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