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Judge grants class action status for ACLU lawsuit

An Idaho judge ruled this week a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho over public defender funding can move forward as a class action lawsuit.

The judge issued the ruling on Wednesday after the ACLU initially filed the suit against the state in 2015 on behalf of plaintiffs who claimed their representation from public defenders was inadequate.

The ACLU is challenging how public defenders are funded, claiming the public defense system is unprepared to handle the caseloads because the funding is managed by individual counties instead of the state.

“We think that this helps to expand the impacts on the litigation,” Jeremy Woodson, ACLU Community Engagement Manager, said. “Particularly for people who are currently facing criminal or juvenile charges so that now makes them part of the class action lawsuit.”

The state had argued against making the case a class action lawsuit, claiming there was no commonality between defendants who use public defenders because of the differences between the counties.

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