Need for Public Defenders

Albuquerque, NM (KKOB) — New Mexico’s public defenders tell Source New Mexico, they have too many clients and nowhere near enough attorneys to represent them. Without more funding from state lawmakers, they say people accused of crimes are losing out on their constitutional rights. When someone is charged with a crime in New Mexico, there’s a good chance they can’t afford their own attorney and must be provided one by the state. Among those attorneys, many are contractors. When a contractor takes on a first-degree murder case, they’re paid a base rate of $5,400. For the whole case. A January study of New Mexico public defenders’ workloads shows that averages out to just $13.81 an hour. In light of the study, lawmakers are taking testimony this week from various state agencies to decide how much funding to provide in the next fiscal year.