NEW ORLEANS -- The Orleans Public Defenders Office has filed suit against Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, asking for changes to the access public defenders have to their clients.
Defense attorneys lay out numerous concerns in the lawsuit. They're worried about having to wait to speak with defendants with mental health issues and who are terminally ill.
“I just needed to get a woman information about where she was supposed to go after she was released.” said attorney Mariah Holder in a statement released by the public defenders office. “Because of visitation conditions, I had to communicate with this mentally ill woman through someone else. I could not help her effectively and she never got to where she needed to be. It’s a shame that someone who was mentally ill had to sit in jail an extra two months because of visitation policies.”
According to Philip Wittmann of the law firm Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann, the city has already saved money through reforms to its jail system. He said because attorneys sometimes wait up to four hours for people to be brought to the visiting area, at times not even getting to meet with them, the city stands to save even more with further reforms.
“The city has been projected to save as much as $3 million this year because of reforms made that affect how we run our jail," he said in the release. "This lawsuit will only help increase those savings to the criminal justice system.”
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