Feb. 17, 2014 05:09

The board that oversees Louisiana's public defender system does a poor job of making sure the lawyers defending clients accused of first-degree murder and facing the death penalty are providing adequate legal representation.

 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The board that oversees Louisiana's public defender system does a poor job of making sure the lawyers defending clients accused of first-degree murder and facing the death penalty are providing adequate legal representation.

That's the finding of a report released Monday by the Legislative Auditor's office.

The Louisiana Public Defender Board monitors 42 judicial district offices that provide attorneys for defendants charged with first-degree murder but can't afford a lawyer. It also contracts with nonprofits to handle appeals in death penalty cases for poor clients.

The audit says the board hasn't reviewed the work as required under its contracts and hasn't established any performance standards for lawyers.

The board disagreed with some findings, saying it does more monitoring than the audit suggests. But it also said it would make improvements.

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