Ohio 3rd-Yr. Law Students May Now Handle Felonies

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Cleveland (AP) -- The Ohio Supreme Court has approved a change allowing legal interns to act as attorneys in felony cases.

Until last week's unanimous action from the high court, those third-year law school students could represent only defendants charged with misdemeanors.

Supporters of the change say it will provide students with important real-world experience while also offering relief to overworked public defenders who represent low-income clients.

In a 2006 report, the State Supreme Court said Ohio had an "inefficient and ineffective" system for providing representation for poor defendants.

But the new policy also has critics.

Cleveland attorney Vincent Gonzalez questions whether the students are ready for cases that could have lifelong consequences for defendants.

(Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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