ACLU Sues Over Lack of Defenders in South Carolina City Courts

October 12, 2017, 3:28 pm EST | Share:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A civil rights organization is suing two South Carolina towns hoping to require lawyers be made to anyone facing charges in municipal courts that could sent them to jail.

The American Civil Liberties Union says most of South Carolina’s 212 municipal courts don’t give defendants lawyers if they ask for one.

The courts handle misdemeanor matters, but often the punishment is a fine or jail time if the fine can’t be paid.

Thursday’s lawsuit was filed against Bluffton and Beaufort with the lawyers asking for class action status. The cities didn’t immediately respond.

Lawyer Stuart Andrews said in a statement that if a city chooses to have a court system, it has to provide public defenders to run it fair and square.