In protest of declining funding, the director of Missouri’s public defender system says he has appointed Gov. Jay Nixon as a defense attorney to represent a client who can’t afford one of his own.
The unusual appointment was delivered this week in a letter posted on the Missouri State Public Defender website and signed by the director, Michael Barrett.
In the letter, Barrett wrote that repeated budget cuts have left his office unable to hire enough public defenders. To secure representation for indigent clients, Barrett wrote, the law allows him to appoint any Missouri attorney — including Nixon.
“It strikes me that I should begin with the one attorney in the state who not only created this problem, but is in a unique position to address it,” Barrett wrote.
For authority to do that, Barrett cited a state statute giving him the power to “delegate the legal representation of any person to any member of the state bar of Missouri,” according to the letter.
Read more: Kansas City Star