Minn. public defenders seek to reduce caseloads

Public defenders in Minnesota are taking another step to try to reduce caseloads that they say are nearly double the level recommended by the American Bar Association.

The Minnesota Board of Public Defense is asking the State Judicial Council to take nonviolent crimes out of the courtroom and instead treat them as offenses that can be handled with fines.

Crimes that would qualify include loitering, petty theft, livestock rustling, misdemeanor trespassing and other offenses.

The State Judicial Council is expected to take up the request at its regular meeting Thursday.

Last month, public defenders in southern Minnesota asked a Steele County District Court judge to reduce their caseloads, but that request was denied.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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