Tag Archives: Washington State Supreme Court

Washington supreme court: Public defense has its limits

Public defenders can only handle 150 felony cases a year under a new rule issued today by the Washington State Supreme Court. Such defense attorneys of those who cannot afford counsel will only be able to take on 300 misdemeanors per year as well, the court decided on an overall 6-3 vote.

The impetus for establishing the first-ever limits is to ensure criminal defendants receive an attentive lawyer not overburdened by other cases. That said, could the decision actually cause a spike in costs to the county and state governments?

Bill Houser says no, at least as far as Kitsap County is concerned.

Houser said Kitsap County’s Office of Public Defense has abided by a standard similar to the one just mandated by the court since the office’s inception. Attorneys have always been held to 150 felonies or less, he said, and if it’s a murder or “three strikes” case, their caseload must decrease even further.

Houser did say that some attorneys handling simple misdemeanors in the county do eclipse 300 at times.

Bear in mind, private attorneys can keep the caseloads they please, as their paychecks come from the clients they serve.

The standards will take effect in September 2013.

LIVE BLOG: State Supreme Court Hears Kitsap Case Regarding Medical Pot in the Workplace

THE CASE BACKGROUND: Jane Roe (not her real name) was fired from TeleTech in East Bremerton in 2007 because she failed a drug test. However, she was legally using marijuana as medicine under state law to treat migraine headaches. She sued after losing her job.

The case was thrown out of Kitsap County Superior Court. It was appealed by Roe’s attorneys to the court of appeals, who ruled that the state’s medical marijuana act does not protect patients in employment situations.

This morning, the state’s supreme court will hear from attorneys on both sides and debate this issue: does the state’s medical marijuana law provide any protection to legal medical marijuana patients in the workplace? We’ll cover it live beginning at 10:30 a.m.

I’ve also posted the video here, via TVW, of the arguments so you can also hear them for yourself.