Facing Budget 'Crisis,' Public Defenders May Refuse Cases

"I have seen a system where lawyers are simply collecting checks rather than representing people in a quality manner," he said. "And that's something we don't want in our community."

Mack Crawford, director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, did not return phone messages left at his office. He told the Associated Press earlier this week that he was forced to close the office because the council only received $5.4 million from state lawmakers for the next fiscal year, down about 40 percent from $9 million last year.

"We've been told repeatedly, 'You need to live within this budget,'" Crawford said. "There will be no compromise for the representation of these clients."

Timothy Spruell, one of the public defenders slated to lose his job, was skeptical that the state would be able to provide the same level of representation to his 260 juvenile clients.

"I've talked to the child, the child knows me, I know the case," he said.

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