SANTA FE – The New Mexico agency that provides legal representation for indigent defendants is seeking a 12.5 percent budget increase – or roughly $6 million – in the coming year to hire about 40 additional attorneys and pay more to contract lawyers in rural parts of the state.
Ben Baur, the state’s chief public defender, said the request would not fulfill all the agency’s needs, but would be a start. He also said it’s not just more money the agency is seeking.
“My mantra is give us more money or give us fewer cases,” Baur told reporters after a Tuesday hearing of the legislative Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee at the state Capitol.
The Public Defender Department has sought increased funding in recent years to alleviate attorney caseloads that are twice the national standards, Baur said.