(Wyo)-Wyo Supreme Court Hears Judge-Public Defender Dispute
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Supreme Court heard opposing arguments this week in a case involving a dispute between the public defender in Gillette and a judge over the public defender's decision not to take part in misdemeanor cases. A ruling isn't expected for several weeks.
State Public Defender Diane Lozano in May declared her office would be unavailable for misdemeanor cases due to heavy caseloads and an understaffing crisis.
Campbell County Circuit Judge Paul Phillips then found Lozano in contempt of court and began fining her $1,500 for each day public defenders aren't available.
Attorneys for both sides gave opposing views during oral arguments Wednesday before the Supreme Court over the meaning of the term "unavailable" and who should decide public defender availability.
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