Glory! Glory! Glory to the Director of Public Defense for the state of Missouri.




No one likes funding public defense offices. This is known. (And also responsible for mass incarceration on a higher level than the drug war, but that’s a subject for another post.)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is one of the ones who likes it least. This is also known. The public defenders there tried to address the problem every normal way, and now they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. They’re trying trolling.

As Director of the Public Defender System, I can only hire attorneys when I have the funding to do so. Because you [Governor Jay Nixon, vetoer of bills] have restricted that funding, MSPD must hold a significant number of vacant positions open in order to have the necessary funds to make it through the fiscal year, a task which is exacerbated by a 12% increase in cases over the year prior.

(This is one of several ways in which Missouri aggressively doesn’t care about due process for poor people.)

To avoid having to close one or more offices [!], the remaining option is to consider the use of Section 600.042.5, which gives the Director of the Public Defender System the authority to “delegate the legal representation of any person to any member of the state bar of Missouri.”

As of yet, I have not utilized this provision because it is my sincere belief that it is wrong to reassign an obligation placed on the state by the 6th and 14th Amendments to private attorneys who have in no way contributed to the current crisis.

You can probably guess where this is going.

[I]t strikes me that I should begin with the one attorney in the state who not only created this problem, but is in a unique position to address it.

Therefore, pursuant to Section 600.042.5 and as Director of the Missouri State Public Defender System tasked with carrying out the state’s obligation to ensure that poor people who face incarceration are afforded competent counsel in their defense, I hereby appoint you, Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Bar No. 29603, to enter your appearance as counsel of record in the attached case.


I don’t know what the case is. Or whether the defendant volunteered to be used to make a point. They better have found someone who would. Unfortunately, it might not make a practical difference. The situation’s bad enough that people either effectively or literally don’t have lawyers. Having a “designated” “lawyer” who’s going to do zero lawyering might not be worse.


TBH this is 100% the way governors should be treated. If you’ve got a political office, take some fucking responsibility for it. Considering how bad things are, I’d command the governor to work in every single case where a proper lawyer isn’t available until he gives funds to hire one. This is a brilliant hack and the person responsible deserves a medal significant praise because government medals are statism.

Anybody know how this turned out?

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