Public Defender's Caseload Increases for Seventh Consecutive Year

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The number of caseloads handled by public advocates across the state is up by more than 5,000 a year according to the Department of Public Advocacy.

Here in Warren County the number hasn't risen drastically but they still work a great deal.

"I've been here five years and routinely we have around 4,000 cases," said Renae Tuck, with the Public Advocate.

That translates to each of the nine public defenders working 433 caseloads a year. In the past, public defenders have had a reputation of not providing the best defense for their clients. But according to Tuck today's public defenders believe in doing everything it takes to win a case even though they are handling numerous cases all at once.

"It's a lot. Sometimes we find ourselves having to determine which case is more important to work on, which one is coming up more quickly," Tuck said.

Tuck became a public defender 12 years ago because she liked to challenge herself and she believes in the legal system although she admits it is a sometimes a thankless job.

"Every couple of years the thought is always there - What could happen if I went into private practice? But then something happens here that makes you go - that's the reason why I'm a public defender," Tuck said.

One reason for the increase in caseloads is the number of juveniles in court. Before defendants under 18 did not have to have legal representation, now they do. Tuck said she believes their caseloads will increase even more next year when Butler, Edmonson, Simpson, and Allen counties get family court judges. Luckily her office will have one more public defender starting soon.

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