The Constitutions of both the United States and the state of Missouri guarantee an indigent defendant the right to effective legal counsel when the defendant's freedom is in jeopardy. Due to a caseload crisis that is compounded by many other factors, the Office of the Missouri Public Defender cannot serve all the indigent clients who depend on it. The most notable of the issues plaguing the public defender system is that of funding. As a result of a severely underfunded system, public defenders are without resources necessary to effectively represent all of their clients. In order to improve client services and to overcome the system's current state of instability, greater funding is needed from Missouri's state legislature. Thus far, the legislature has failed to give such funding voluntarily, and unless such funds are obtained, Missouri's public defender system will not be able to provide constitutionally adequate legal assistance to all indigent Missouri defendants. To achieve this greater level of funding, it may be necessary for Missouri's judiciary to compel the legislature to provide funding, and it will certainly be necessary for Missouri's legal community to support the system in its efforts.

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