Wyoming budget cuts to impact state public defender’s office

September 1, 2020 GMT

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Public Defender’s office faces staffing losses that could severely effect its service to residents because of a 10% budget cut.

State budget cuts eliminated about $3 million for the office that provides defense attorneys for court cases, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported Sunday.

State Public Defender Diane Lozano told the Legislature last year that her office was overburdened by heavy caseloads and struggled to retain attorneys.


Lozano said in May that her office could no longer accept misdemeanor cases in Campbell County because of the overload and lack of attorneys for cases.

When Lozano directed the Campbell County office to stop handling misdemeanors, 4.5 public defenders were handling the workload of 7.5 attorneys, a budget document said.

The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in favor of Lozano earlier this year by determining her office can exercise discretion in choosing defendants to represent in misdemeanor cases.

A field office in Newcastle, which covers both Crook and Weston counties, will lose its attorney and legal assistant. All public defenders for residents of northeast Wyoming will subsequently come from the Campbell County office in Gillette.

The reduced budget also will impact Laramie County, which lost a part-time attorney and a contracted public defender.