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Mid-Missouri district public defender files motion for caseload conference due to high workload

A public defender serving Miller County wants to meet with the presiding judge to discuss caseload issues and request relief.

The motion filed by Justin Carver, the district defender in the state’s Area 19, says that his office has no lawyers available to take Gary Sweet’s case because every lawyer is already overloaded with cases, and they would be violating several laws, including the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, if they did accept the additional case.

Sweet is facing charges of murder, assault and armed criminal action in a shooting that killed Jim and Sheri Parker at an RV park at the Lake of the Ozarks in early November.

Carver also asks in the motion for prosecutors to not be allowed to participate in the conference with the presiding judge because they have a “conflict of interest in speaking to the question of whether the public defender can provide effective assistance of counsel or are in danger of violating ethical rules.”

Carver previously filed a motion in October asking the judge to appoint a state-hired lawyer to defend John Powell, who is facing charges of assault and armed criminal action in a stabbing that killed Mark Johnson. Carver then said his office was understaffed and overloaded with cases.

Carver’s area covers Miller, Cole and Moniteau counties. Only four other defenders serve the three-county area.

According to online records, the motion filed in Powell’s case was overruled Nov. 6, and Carver filed a similar motion for a caseload conference Nov. 14.

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