NewsKATC Investigates


KATC Investigates: Impact of Capital Crisis on Criminal Justice

Posted at 11:02 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2018-08-08 12:06:53-04

We’re getting a sense of the impacts of the "Capital Crisis" on the justice system. 

The budget deficit is causing a backlog in the courts because of cuts to the public defenders office. 

The 15th Judicial District, which represents Lafayette, Acadia, and Vermilion Parishes, has already had to cut 30 of its 52 positions. 

As of now, Lafayette Public Defenders can only handle 20 percent of the cases they’re assigned, and can only represent people already in jail. 

Our investigative team searched through court documents and found among the high profile cases affected by the "Capital Crisis", two murders in Vermilion Parish, one of them the murder of  Vermilion Parish Deputy Allen Bares, Jr. 

"I think Deputy Bares’ case is horrific and tragic, and everybody involved in that needs a resolution. That is basically the metaphor for the whole thing," said G. Paul Marx, the Chief Public Defender for the 15th Judicial District. 

He says justice for the family of Deputy Allen Bares, Jr. will have to wait. 

Citing an "excessive case load" and "restriction of services", the suspect in the case, Quintylan Richard, could go to court as late as March 2017. 

"I think it’s horrible for the victims in our community. It’s horrible for law enforcement. I know a lot of folks in law enforcement that work hard. And they want to see results from their work. And we all, as citizens, want to see results," Marx said.

District Attorney Keith Stutes agrees, saying in a statement to KATC that, "Justice delayed is justice denied." 

The public defenders office also handed off the case of accused Abbeville murderer Derrick Mitchell to the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, writing that it "currently lacks counsel and resources to adequately defend the defendant" and it "declines to attempt to provide counsel as that would violate ethical and legal requirements providing for a certain standard of performance in such cases."  

"Yes, it’s absolutely in violation of the Constitution. But as much as people are anti-government now, as much as Gov. Jindal stripped the government of money, if you don’t have money, people can’t function. I can’t have people come to work more than any other industry," Marx said.

The Plaquemines Parish Public Defenders Office was closed Wednesday because of budget issues. 

The office only had $1,500 on hand.