More Judicial Layoffs

New Orleans public defenders announce furloughs as officials project $800,000 shortfall

By Matt Sledge –

The Orleans Public Defenders on Monday said they will furlough staffers because the coronavirus shutdowns have drained their revenues, an early sign of how the pandemic could disrupt Louisiana’s criminal justice budgets.

The public defense agency, which relies heavily on revenue sources like traffic camera tickets and costs that defendants pay upon conviction, projects an $800,000 shortfall in the coming months.

In response, the agency plans hour and pay cuts that range from 10 to 30%, with more senior, higher-paid employees taking a bigger hit. Entry-level employees will be furloughed one out of 10 working days.

Chief District Defender Derwyn Bunton said the furloughs could last until at least the end of the fiscal year on June 30, when the Louisiana Legislature is set to unveil a new state budget. The agency will re-evaluate after it has a clearer sense of next year’s state funding.


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