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Wisconsin GOP plan aims to address state public defender problems

Associated Press

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans in Wisconsin’s state Assembly are supporting raising the pay for attorneys who represent poor defendants, as the state faces a class-action lawsuit over the issue.

Assembly Republicans also are backing the hiring of 61 more assistant district attorneys and raising pay for prosecutors, public defenders and correctional officers, according the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Republican Rep. Mark Born said the plan would cost about $50 million over two years. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack issued a statement saying the plan would “support essential constitutional guarantees.”

A group of defendants from northern Wisconsin is suing in federal court over funding and staffing problems in the state Public Defender’s Office. They contend the rights of low-income defendants to competent defense attorneys and speedy trials have been violated.