Lawyer: Oregon’s release of 200 defendants ‘rather extreme’


(NewsNation) — Local judges in Portland’s Multnomah County dismissed more than 200 defendants since February 2022 due to a shortage of public defenders.

Oregon Live reports that the majority of these cases involved allegations of car thefts, people fleeing the police, or illegal possession of firearms.

Some cases included instances of violent crimes, where suspects were accused of assaulting or threatening victims.

David Weinstein, a former state and federal prosecutor who is now in private practice, joined NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Tuesday to break down the significance of what’s happening in Oregon’s legal system.

“The solution to this problem that was found here in this case in Portland is rather extreme — one of the first times I’ve heard about cases actually being dismissed,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein went on to say that the issue of a shortage of publicly funded and appointed lawyers is a problem throughout the country.

The reason, Weinstein tells NewsNation, is that lawyers working either for the public defender’s office or for prosecuting offices are paid very low in comparison to people who are in private practices, making it a problem to staff.

Even still, Weinstein says Oregon’s solution to the issue is rather extreme.

“There has to be a way, either through public funding or through bonds or through state taxes, that their salaries can be raised,” he said.

Watch the entire interview above.

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