Class-Action for Relief in WI Featured on Public Defenseless
Today, Hunter is joined by two guests hoping their lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin will bring vital changes to the State’s Public Defender System. Hank Schultz and John Birdsall have a combined experience of more than 40 years of working as criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin. Through this experience, they are acutely aware of the history of inadequate pay for contract counsel and tough on crime policies that have pushed indigent defense to a state of crisis.
For decades, the state of Wisconsin paid the attorneys willing to serve as contract counsel for indigent clients a paltry rate of $40 per hour. At that rate, attorneys could not even cover the cost of overhead, and that rate did not change from 1995 until 2020. As a result of these low rates, less and less attorneys were willing to take on cases. Meanwhile, more people were forced to wait months and months just to speak to an attorney. In doing so, the state flagrantly violated the right to counsel and right to speedy trial of countless people, and yet, even raise to $70 per hour the state implemented in 2020 was nowhere close to addressing the magnitude of the problem.
Despite the main issue the state faces being the low pay for contract counsel, Hank and John have sought a creative remedy in their lawsuit. By the end of this episode, you will have a clear understanding of how the state ended being sued, why a lawsuit was necessary, and the potential ways other state’s may be able to learn from this case!!