The county council on Tuesday approved hiring the additional defenders for the second half of the year. Circuit Judge Michael Gotsch had asked council members for the changes described as a "revolutionary change" to the county system late last month.
Judge Gotsch says the 10 public defenders are needed to keep up with increasing caseloads that are at higher levels than the state standard allows. The measures also establish a chief deputy with administrative and court duties, and mean a tiered pay structure will be set up to hike the pay for senior public defenders and set a lower one for new defenders.
St. Joseph County will also now join dozens of other Hoosier counties getting 40 percent reimbursement from the state's public defender fund for non-capital cases.