Public defender agency review recommends changes

Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A report says the public defender agency is passing off more cases to the Office of Public Advocacy due to conflicts of interest with other cases or clients.

The report from a state oversight unit says the number of conflicts jeopardizes the primary defense role the agency plays.

It says the more cases the agency can’t do, the more the Office of Public Advocacy and contract attorneys will do.

The report also says the public defender agency inconsistently reports the number of cases it has and says the agency would be more efficient with more support staff.

Public Defender Samantha Cherot says the agency will review the findings.

Quinlan Steiner, before resigning as public defender this year, tried to make a case for additional funding to support the agency’s caseload.