By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
No last-minute budget deal was worked out over the weekend to prevent the Defender Association of Philadelphia from withdrawing from some Municipal Court courtrooms because the association says it has not received enough funding from the city of Philadelphia for the fiscal year starting this week.
Charles Cunningham, first assistant defender for the Defender Association of Philadelphia, confirmed that the association had withdrawn from multiple courtrooms. In one courtroom The Legal spot-checked between 11:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. today, several cases were rescheduled because an assistant defender was not staffing the courtroom and private counsel still needed to be appointed. Domestic-violence cases are scheduled in Courtroom 906.
Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Harvey W. Robbins stated regarding the status of five cases: “Private attorney appointed; commonwealth witnesses called off; bring-down canceled.”
During The Legal’s visit, two cases with private counsel were withdrawn and one case with a court-appointed private attorney resulted in a guilty plea.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s administration issued this statement regarding the funding for the Defender Association: “The city is in communications with the defenders and will continue to work to address the current and long-standing issues that they have raised. We will work to resolve these differences within the fiscal realities of the city.”
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