Massachusetts' courts are in a critical state. An increasing number of state-appointed lawyers who defend poor, or indigent, people are refusing to take on new cases. These bar advocates are fighting for higher pay and cost of living adjustments that the state hasn't made for decades.
Last summer, a similar impasse caused a virtual shutdown of Hampden County courts. Now, about two-thirds of bar advocates in Suffolk and Middlesex counties have stopped taking on new cases.
Meanwhile, the Committee for Public Counsel Services is urging the House to implement pay raises now, before moving any bills. Bar advocates say many judges are continuing or delaying cases until September, perhaps in hopes that the crisis will be resolved by then.
This program aired on July 20, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.