As the Fulton County Circuit Court waits for a new public defender, court sessions are likely to be shorter than usual. According to the Area Wide News, Judge Tim Weaver says he has had seven different public defenders during his ten years on the bench. The last public defender, John Russo of Mountain Home who took the job in October of 2011, left the post this past September to serve as public defender in Baxter County. The Public Defender, who represents clients in Izard and Fulton Counties charged with felony crimes who can not afford an attorney, is appointed by the Arkansas Public Defender Commission.
Jim Pettigo, a retired public defender from Mountain Home, has been filling in for the Fulton County Circuit Court as criminal cases have been called since Russo left, but his role is limited. Judge Weaver says with new defendants coming before him every month who are requesting a public defender, most existing cases are not moving forward and the criminal court system is backing up in Fulton and Izard counties. Weaver says there are probably 100 criminal cases pending and the absence of a public defender puts a lot of pressure on the court since, under Arkansas law, most cases must be settled within a year.
According to Pettigo, the Public Defender Commission has checked with attorneys in the area, but no one has expressed interest in the job.
(Copyright © 2009 - 2012 Mountain Lakes Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.)
WebReadyTM Powered by WireReady® NSI