Lack of funds for lawyers could mean freedom for 7 suspects

AP News
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Posted: Apr 08, 2016 4:25 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Seven New Orleans jail inmates, including one charged with murder and another charged with rape, have been ordered released by a judge because their cases have stalled amid uncertain funding for their defense.

Release of the seven is not imminent — state Judge Arthur Hunter stayed his own ruling Friday pending review by higher courts. But his order renews attention to the funding problems for indigent defense in New Orleans and Louisiana.

Hunter said the lack of adequate defense and the languishing of the cases violates the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He also notes the Louisiana Constitution grants poor people a right to appointed lawyers.

Hunter's order says the inmates have been jailed for anywhere from 105 days to more than three years.