"Debate renews on Miss. indigent defense," is by Jack Elliott Jr. of Associated Press, via the Columbus Commerical Dispatch. Here's teh beginning:
In 1997, the Mississippi Legislature's reluctance to finance a statewide public defender system prompted then-Gov. Kirk Fordice to recommend fashioning a payment plan to encourage private lawyers to handle death penalty cases -- the main concern at that time.
Fordice has proposed increasing the hourly rate paid to attorneys appointed to such cases and tie the payment plan in some way to a district attorney's salary. The proposal didn't go anywhere.
By 2011, the Office of State Public Defender was created. Its Capital Defense Counsel Division assists in death penalty trials and appeals throughout the state. The Indigent Appeals Division handles all felony indigent criminal appeals.
Mississippi's failure to provide for a state-funded public defender in the local courts is at the core of the American Civil Liberties Union's federal lawsuit against Scott County, where the ACLU argues people have been held illegally in jail for as long as a year without having counsel or appointed or appointing counsel or presenting cases to a grand jury.