It has been going on for years.
Local courts for years have ignored a state law requiring judges to appoint lawyers for poor defendants using a rotating list of attorneys. They instead have used erratic methods that funneled a large percentage of cases and taxpayer money to a small percentage of lawyers.
Following the list, known as the “wheel,” is a condition of the Fair Defense Act, a law passed in 2001 in part to bring fairness to appointments. Courts must appoint attorneys from among the next five names on the list in the order in which the names appear.
A state task force pointed out the noncompliance two months ago in a review requested by a local senator. Echoing charges of favoritism in the courts, the review concluded that too many cases were going to too few attorneys.
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