Jan 30, 2011 12:20 PM by P. Soloman Bandap, Associated Press

Lawsuit challenges Colorado pubic defender law

DENVER (AP) - Facing a prosecutor without an attorney, truck driver Ryan Weaver says he pleaded guilty to a crime he didn't commit because he thought he didn't have much of a choice.

"Basically, the way they put it, if you didn't take it (a plea deal), you could end up staying in jail," said Weaver, who spent one night in jail for a misdemeanor conviction - later thrown out - stemming from a domestic dispute.

The law in Colorado states that a misdemeanor defendant who can't afford an attorney may apply for a public defender only after meeting with a prosecutor.

But the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar and Colorado Criminal Justice Reform are challenging it in federal court, arguing it frequently denies legal counsel for the poor.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



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