Public defender backlog clogs justice system

Posted at 2:10 p.m. on August 3, 2021


The Brillion News

GREEN BAY – Several northeast Wisconsin legislators are asking Governor Tony Evers to direct federal COVID recovery funds, allocated to Wisconsin, to address the backlog of criminal cases in Brown and other counties.


State Representative Shae Sortwell, R-Town of Gibson, said the office of the State Public Defender (SPD) contacted him for help. He said the SPD said cases have been coming into their office since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020, but not enough are getting resolved and they are backing up, clogging the justice system.

“Not only do we need to help our public defenders reduce this backlog of cases, we [also] need to maintain Wisconsinites’ constitutional rights to a speedy trial,” Sortwell said.


He described the situation as “a massive backlog of cases” that is not getting better.

Sortwell and eight other area lawmakers – all Republicans - wrote to the governor on August 4 and asked that he use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to hire limited-term employees for up to 24 month to alleviate the case backlog.

~ This is a brief version of a more complete story to appear in the August 12 print edition of The Brillion News.