The state of Mississippi provides state public defense services for capital cases only, and the provision of public defense for other proceedings is provided by local jurisdictions.
This lack of state oversight creates a number of issues, including undue judicial influence on appointed counsel, lack of standards for provision of services, and lack of resources for defenders. Additionally, the state does not provide counsel at critical stages of criminal proceedings.
Counsel are appointed directly by local judges at their sole discretion, creating a problematic incentive structure that prevents independence for defenders.
Lack of state funding for felony defense counsel leave public defenders with high caseloads and limited training, making it exceedingly difficult for them to provide an adequate defense.
Access at All Stages
The state does not provide access to defense services at the pre-arraignment stage, a critical time for defendants to access counsel.
Statewide oversight is limited to the provision of defense services in capital cases.