The Missouri Bar Association`s President says Missouri`s public defender system is in a state of crisis. President Doug Copeland says that means many Missourians aren`t getting fair representation, because public defenders simply don`t have enough time or resources. The president and other members from St. Joseph`s bar chapter discussed the issue at a breakfast Thursday morning. Copeland says not enough pay and huge case loads are making it hard for public defender offices to recruit qualified lawyers. Copeland said, "Part of the problem is that we have very dedicated people that really want to do this job and they really want to do it well but they aren`t able to because of the time and resources. At a certain point they say I can`t do this anymore and they leave." The Missouri Bar, legislators and an independent task force from Boston, Massachusetts are discussing several changes that would make public defense a more attractive career choice. But attracting lawyers to the field isn`t the only problem public defense offices face. The St. Joseph office is having trouble keeping lawyers here once they take the job and it could put one of Constitutional rights at risk. St. Joseph`s District Defender Michelle Davidson says there aren`t enough hours in the day to get her job done. Davidson said, ""If you were to ask me if everyone in this office is able to be effective in everyone of their cases I would have to tell you no." St. Joseph`s public defender office is full of files, but the stacks of files aren`t a sign of disorganization but simply the amount of cases the office handles each year. But it`s not for lack of effort. Right now seven attorney`s work at the public defenders office. Last year they handled 2,334 cases. So when you do the math, that means 333 cases per attorney. Davidson said, "You would like to be able to adequately look into the case to do everything you should, but we often have to make those shortcuts because we have no choice." Law abiding citizen`s may be thinking why does all this matter to me. Davidson said "One of the guarantees of the Constitution is that if anybody whether it be themselves, their neighbor, or someone else is in the situation where they are charged with a crime that they will be able to be represented by someone who can defend them and protect their rights." Things may be getting even more hectic around here real soon. One of the seven attorneys may be leaving to practice private law. The independent task force has come up with several suggestions to improve the situation. They include withdrawing a large number of minor cases, the de-criminalization of minor misdemeanors, an increase in funding and as a last resort a systematic lawsuit.