Trials currently in progress will still proceed, as will those scheduled in other parts of the state.
An intrastate case raised grand legal questions about poor, rural Alaskans’ access to the justice system. Yet it was also an exercise in budgetary semantics with almost no practical effect — except for running up publicly funded legal bills.
The agency said it largely agreed with a report from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration that reviewed the agency.
A new state entity analyzed the caseloads of public defenders in Alaska. According to its report, the Public Defenders Agency saw an attrition rate of 23% in the last fiscal year.
Anchorage Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt opposed the added money. He proposed firing higher paid lawyers and replacing them with lower cost, less experienced lawyers.
Legislators in Juneau are hearing some hard numbers this week on how difficult things have gotten for state prosecutors. Alaska has had upward trends in recent years with violent crime, like murder and assault, and property crime, like vehicle theft and burglary.
Newton Lambert is currently serving a 99 year sentence for the April 1982 murder of Anne Benolken in Juneau. But he wants testing of evidence found on James Benolken’s clothing that could provide a clue about another potential suspect.
Low-level, low-risk offenders have an opportunity for a fresh start with a clean slate after their case is dismissed as part of a suspended entry of judgment, a new form of deferred prosecution.