Turner, 010280 MSAGO, 19800102
|Case Date:||January 02, 1980|
The Neshoba County Board of Supervisors has approved the establishment of the office of a part-time public defender pursuant to the recently enacted law which took effect October 1, 1979. I have been asked by the local bar to accept the position and would like to have the opinion of the Attorney General's office on two points. First, I am the Municipal Court Judge Pro Tempore for Philadelphia, Mississippi. As you know, my job is to fill in when the regular Municipal Court Judge is unavailable. My main function is to hear misdemeanor cases in Municipal Court. The only contact I would have with felonies in Municipal Court is to sign search warrants and to transfer felonies out of Municipal Court. I have talked with the regular Municipal Court Judge, the Mayor and the Chief of Police, and we have agreed that if I can keep my position as Municipal Judge Pro Tempore, the regular judge will have complete responsibility for any aspect of the job that would in any way conflict with my holding the part-time public defender office. I would like your opinion as to whether, under these circumstances, I could retain my position as Municipal Judge Pro Tempore and accept the part-time public defender job. Secondly, I would like a clarification of the extent of the public defender's responsibilities. Presently, when an indigent is charged with a misdemeanor in Neshoba County, an attorney is not appointed to represent him. I am wondering if the new law requires the public defender to defend all indigent cases, including such misdemeanors. (At present, only if the judge is contemplating imposing a jail sentence will he appoint counsel.) If the public defender is required to defend such misdemeanors as public drunkenness or simple assault where only a fine is contemplated, this would increase the public defender's work load tremendously, and, for that reason, I would appreciate your opinion on this subject. I would be very grateful if your office could advise me of your decision as to these two matters as soon as possible, as I must...
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