Wyoming Public Defender Says Her Attorneys Overworked

Wyoming Public Defender Diane Lozano testifies before the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee about why her office needs additional staff members in the trial and appellate offices as Rep. Sue Wilson, R-Cheyenne, listens Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, at the Jonah Business Center. Lozano also discussed ways to save money with the committee members. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Wyoming’s top public defender says some of her offices are so overworked that they can’t fulfill their constitutionally mandated duty to provide legal defense to those too poor to afford a private attorney.

Diane Lozano says if the state Legislature doesn’t grant more staff positions, her attorneys are going to have to start refusing cases.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that Lozano made the comments Thursday in testimony to the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee.

A budget request for the fiscal year 2019-20 biennium asks for an additional lawyer in eight of the 14 trial offices across the state; a new attorney in the office that handles appeals; and more staff in each of the nine offices.

Gov. Matt Mead recommended approving four new attorneys and four new support staff.