Public Defenders await High Court ruling -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Public Defenders await High Court ruling

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The struggling Georgia public defenders system could end up in financial ruins if the state Supreme Court holds it financially responsible for a death penalty case.

The high court will decide who should pay the bill in a 1995 Burke County death penalty case. If the court decides it's the public defenders office-- even though they weren't in existance then-- it could bankrupt the system.

The district attorney's office says it's important that the entire court systems receives proper funding.

"If they don't get a fair trial then it doubles the work for everybody," said Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards. "If the court of appeals finds that a defendant wasn't appropriately represented, if the state is successful in prosecuting the case via a jury trial then we have to retry it then that doubles the cost."

Currently shortfalls in funding has the District Attorney's office furloughing employees one day every month.