BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than two years after a Baton Rouge Gang was busted, many of the accused members are still waiting to face a judge.
The pause button has been hit on the criminal case against the Big Money Block Boyz gang.
It all started over 2 years ago when lawmen arrested 28 so called gang members in the Gardere area on a variety of charges.
Thirteen of them are scheduled for trial in the 19th district court. However, Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Jerome Winsberg, sitting in here in baton rouge, has issued a stay on the proceedings because of a lack of funds....funds that the East Baton Rouge
Parish Public Defender's office says they do not have to pay the attorneys necessary to represent the defendants.
"This office doesn't have the sufficient funding from the state, or otherwise to support, this particular trial," said Michael Mitchell, the Chief Public Defender for the 19th Judicial District of Louisiana.
Mitchell is disappointed that seven of the defendants remain in jail and they have no representation for a trial.
"The public defender system has never been fully funded. It has never been adequately funded."
Public Defenders in 33 of the state's 42 Judicial Districts say they have been forced to reduce services due to lack of dollars.
Prosecutors for the Big Money Block Boyz case say the problem is in how the state distributes the funds.
They believe there is enough money to pay attorneys for this case, but the money is not coming in to the local public defender's office.
District Attorney Hillar Moore agrees that the state hasn't supplied the necessary amount of money.
"They really need to reach down and find out what's needed by these local public defenders, and fund them from the funds that the state gives them, and it's not happening. This is total manipulation it's been going on for several years and it finally reached it to a head in our court unfortunately, in a big case."
The case has been put on hold until funds are available to pay attorneys. Mitchell says it's up to the state legislature to get the proceedings back on track.
"I imagine it's difficult for the legislators to decide to fund the public defender's system."