CT Division of Public Defender Services works outdoors to help people arrested during the pandemic

The Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services made a stop at the Stamford Superior Court Wednesday to help people who've been arrested during the pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Oct 21, 2020, 11:30 PM

Updated 1,331 days ago

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The Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services made a stop at the Stamford Superior Court Wednesday to help people who've been arrested during the pandemic.
The group set up a makeshift office workspace outside of the courthouse and met with potential clients to see if they qualified for a public defender, and if so, signed them up for representation.
Usually, when a criminal defendant who can't afford a lawyer appears in court for the first time, that's when they apply for a public defender. The pandemic, though has upended the judicial system, shutting down courthouses and stalling cases.
"There's a lot of people that, they were arrested back in February... March... their cases have been continued and continued and continued. They haven't been in the court. Probably, even more importantly, they haven't had access to counsel," says temporary Deputy Assistant Public Defender Michael Rodriguez.
To fix that, Supervisory Assistant Public Defender Doug Ovian is now leading a team of recent law school graduates in community outreach. They caravan around Connecticut, offering much-needed legal help and advice.
"We decided to begin holding them around the state at courthouses in every corner of Connecticut, and that's what we've been doing the past six weeks," he says.
The group will continue to be outside other state courthouses throughout the month. The group will be at New Britain Superior Court Thursday and at Bridgeport Superior Court Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"You don't have to have a case that day or in that courthouse to come to us, so if you have a court case in Stamford but you missed today, you can come to us tomorrow or Friday when we're in Bridgeport," says temporary Deputy Assistant Public Defender Ashley Miller.
The case will then be assigned to a public defender who can start looking into it. The group hopes to get things moving forward even when the case isn't in court.
"We can at least get them started with a resolution," says Ovian.
For more information on the group's schedule, click here.


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