Indigent defense requirements top issues at commissioners meeting

CLARKSTON, WA - An unfunded government mandate was one of the many issues discussed at the Asotin County town hall meeting held Tuesday night.

A wide array of issues were brought up at the meeting, issues ranging from sales tax to street repair. However, the new indigent defense requirements, that take effect in October, are already becoming a hot topic.

"My question is that when it gets to the point where there's not a dime left in the treasury, what can you do?" said concerned citizen Rick Rogers. "There's no oath to keep if you can even pay for it."

"The supreme court tried to get the legislature to change the standards, and the legislature would not do it," said Asotin County Commissioner Brian Shinn. "So the supreme court is kind of like the EPA, they're trying to rule by regulation."

The government mandate from the Washington Supreme Court, states that public defenders can only represent 150 felony equivalencies per year. That means that if crime continues to climb in Asotin County, they'll be forced to hire another attorney, and the county would be on the hook to pay the additional salary.