(SALEM) - Washington County is out of money to pay public defenders.
Marsha Walker of the Leader Democrat reports, Circuit Judge Larry Medlock requested an additional $10,000 to pay for the attorneys but the Washington County Council tabled the request.
The request was tabled after a recommendation from County Attorney Mark Clark, who also serves as a public defender.
He told the council that because of the county's tight financial situation and possible outstanding bills the county needs to pay they should wait.
He also advised the council that public defenders might need to stop working on cases until after the first of the year. He added the judges won't like that but the county may have no other alternative.
This year, the line item for public defenders totaled $364,128. Next year, the line item in the proposed Circuit Court budget totals $372,843.
Medlock told the council the budget was running short because of the added expense of a murder trial and appeals. He also told the council that the need for public defenders did not increase this year, but the related expenses to the cases had.
Public defenders provide legal representation to those who can't afford an attorney.
One case where public defenders have been appointed involves the death of 8-month-old Leelan Crain, who allegedly died as a result of being beaten by his mother's boyfriend, Jamie Lykins.
Alice Bartenen has been appointed to represent Lykins.
The mother, Casey Crain, was also arrested and charged with neglect of a dependent.
Clark was initially appointed public defender for Crain, but Medlock says while Clark initially accepted the case, he later declined. That is when Medlock has appointed Bedford Attorney Dave Smith to represent her.
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