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Suit filed against Allen County over public defender system

January 6, 2016

A second county in Indiana is facing a federal lawsuit claiming that its public defender system violates indigent defendants' rights to adequate legal defense.

The lawsuit against Allen County was filed Thursday in federal court on behalf of Calvin Wilson, who was charged with battery on July 6. It comes about three months after a similar lawsuit was filed against Johnson County.

The suit against Allen County says Wilson was given a court-appointed attorney when charged, but didn't meet him until two weeks later and has had only brief interactions since. David Frank, a private attorney representing Wilson, says impoverished people charged with misdemeanors are often left without "legal advocacy."

Frank says the county's system leaves public defenders with excessive caseloads.

The Indianapolis Star reports the Allen County Board of Commissioners declined to comment.

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