The American Civil Liberties Union has sued 15 states in the past over issues surrounding public defense. The ACLU said it is closely watching what lawmakers in Oregon do to address the issues and has not ruled out a lawsuit.

CONTRIBUTED - The Multnomah County Courthouse

A group of public defenders in Multnomah County told OPB they're going to walk off the job starting Monday, though the walkout isn't expected to affect day-to-day courthouse operations.

Multnomah Defenders Inc., a group of about 15 criminal defense attorneys and staff, said their walkout is expected to last several days this week. They plan to take their case to lawmakers in Salem.

Public defenders said they're protesting high case loads and in support of House Bill 3145, which appears stalled in the Legislature's budget committee. That bill would pave the way for a public defense system that requires more training for new attorneys, caseload caps and eventually the state hiring some 900 attorneys and support staff.

"Attorneys from Multnomah County's second largest public defense firm will be absent from court to draw attention to state legislation that would reform the public defense system statewide, improving legal representation for low-income Oregonians," attorneys from Multnomah Defenders Inc. said in a statement to OPB.

The walkout comes as the state is struggling with how to fix its overburdened public defense system.

Oregon Public Broadcasting is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find their complete story here.

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