National

Mar 24, 2013 11:15 AM by Associated Press

Federal defenders face deep cuts, delays in cases

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The lawyers who defend the nation's poor in federal courts are grappling with budget cuts they and others say will decimate their offices, delay criminal cases and jeopardize the fairness of the criminal justice system.

The cuts of around 10 percent have forced some of the nation's 94 offices of federal defenders to lay people off. Many will force staffers take off six weeks or more without pay before Sept. 30.

A federal defender in Virginia says he will not be able to take complicated death penalty or terrorism cases.

Any cases defenders offices can't take will be assigned to private lawyers at a rate of $125 per hour.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer this month told a congressional subcommittee the cuts would cost the government more in the long run.

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