"State officials in Ohio have demanded improvements in Hamilton County's Public Defende's Office for years, but they've boosted scrutiny in the past few months," the Cincinnati Enquirer reported last Sunday morning, "after the county failed to use $1.2 million in state money specifically given to it to defend poor people. Instead, county officials put it in their general fund, which meant it went for everything from fixing roads to paying child abuse investigations.
"As a result, State Public Defender Tim Young has asked for a written improvement plan, which must be signed off on in July by the county public defender commission, county commissioners and the state public defenders commission…. If state commission members - who expect to see the plan at its next meeting July 23 - don't like what they see, they could pull state money given to the county or sue the county for violating indigent defendants' constitutional rights to a fair trial if changes aren't made."
Last year, the County, Commissioners, and Public Defender’s Office settled a class action suit claiming “systematic failure to provide representation on the issue of defendants’ ability to pay fines and/or costs assessed by Hamilton County Municipal Court, resulting in incarceration despite their inability to pay those fines/costs.
"In 2007," the article Sunday morning said, "County commissioners, paid $100,000 to the National Legal Aid and Defender Association to assess the public defender’s office's management and efficiency. That organization found that attorneys were being discouraged from doing work to save money; the office had few resources; and staff lawyers handled 2½ times the recommended number of cases.," Since then, the office has hired some felony lawyers, which has lessened the caseload.