Public defenders says they can't take new cases
The Office of the State Public Defender says it is overloaded with cases in the Helena area and can't take any more.
The chief public defender is asking a Helena judge to stop assigning them new cases.
A hearing originally scheduled Wednesday on the request is being postponed after prosecutors filed their own opinions on the request.
The public defender's office said staff attorneys have too many cases and are in danger of not meeting ethical obligations to properly represent clients.
It said that more than 3,000 cases were assigned in 2012 to its 10 attorneys in a region that covers Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater counties.
Lawmakers have been warned the state could have to pick up the cost if new cases are assigned to private attorneys.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.