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Bill Seeks To Cut State Spending On Public Defenders

In Massachusetts — like every state — individuals charged with a crime are read their rights and offered the right to legal representation. They also have the right to decline representation, but most don’t.

That means that those who can’t pay for their own defense, known as “indigents,” are provided an attorney by the state.

But, under a bill that is expected to be filed by state Rep. David Linsky on Wednesday, indigent defendants charged with certain misdemeanors could be denied a court-appointed attorney.

Linsky says the move would save the state about $10 million a year. Among the crimes that would fall into the no-lawyer category would be trespassing, prostitution, graffiti and 38 others.

Linsky says another $2 million or so will be saved by more carefully verifying whether indigent defendants actually qualify for state-appointed lawyers in cases where they would still be eligible for representation.

Critics say that denying representation to indigent defendants would violate their rights.


  • Rep. David Linsky of Natick
  • Stephanie Soriano-Mills, legal resource chair for the NAACP and attorney at Denner Pellegrino, LLP

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  • Anonymous

    How much money are we going to save when we are paying for their appeals?

  • uncle

    read In re Gault…………this was over years ago

  • Allison

    Are they going to pick someone from the juror pool to prosecute, too? Prosecution and defense need to have equal knowledge of the law (or at least be perceived to have equal knowledge). Otherwise, we risk the legal equivalent of asking an ER patient to stitch up his own wound.

  • Anonymous

    I wholeheartedly agree with Stephanie.  If you want this statute Dave…  you need to 100% decriminalize the statutes in question.  My guess is that it will shorten the list of statutes on the list but it is the only legitimate way to do this.  The courts cannot have it both ways nor can they change their minds mid-proceedings as to whether jail time will be involved and whether an attorney will be required.

    I’m all for saving money, but I am not sure this is the way to go about doing it.

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