Public Defenders for The New York Times – by Luke Sharrett

Public Defenders

Public Defender Colleen Polak rides an elevator to meet with a client in detention at the St. Louis County Jail in St. Louis, Mo. on Thursday, January 23, 2014. Public defenders take a substantial pay cut in comparison with lawyers who work for private firms. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.

Louisville, KY-based photographer Luke Sharrett photographed the Public Defenders office of the St. Louis County Justice Department for The New York Times.

In January I traveled to Missouri and spent a day shadowing the Public Defenders office of the St. Louis County Justice Department. Most public defense lawyers are notoriously overworked and underpaid in relation to their colleagues in the private sector. Those that I met in St. Louis were no exception. Already averaging around 10 different hearings per day, public defenders in St. Louis are worried they don’t have the proper time and resources to devote to each case.

See more photos on Luke’s blog.

Public Defenders

Public Defender Colleen Polak reviews case notes with Washington University Law School legal intern Michael Derrick in the court room of the Hon. Michael T. Jamison of the 21st Judicial Circuit Court at the the St. Louis County Court Building in St. Louis, Mo. on Thursday, January 23, 2014. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.

Public Defenders

Public Defender Colleen Polak (Middle) argues a case before the Hon. Michael T. Jamison of the 21st Judicial Circuit Court during a probation hearing at the the St. Louis County Court Building in St. Louis, Mo. on Thursday, January 23, 2014. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.

Public Defenders

Public Defender Colleen Polak laughs after successfully arguing for a re-trial for a client before the Hon. Michael T. Jamison of the 21st Judicial Circuit Court during a probation hearing at the the St. Louis County Court Building in St. Louis, Mo. on Thursday, January 23, 2014. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.

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