For years Public Defender offices across the county have been underfunded, and unable to give their clients the necessary attention to effectively represent them. However an elected Public Defender from Missouri tried to do something extraordinary about it. He wrote a letter appointing the Governor of the state to a case based on a Missouri statute, which he believed gave him the authority to appoint any member of the state bar to a criminal case. Unfortunately the court ruled he did not have the authority to appoint the Governor or any member of the bar to a criminal case.
Michael Barrett is not the first Public Defender to do something about their office being assigned too many cases to take on. Although writing a letter appointing the Governor as counsel for a defendant is definitely the most bold move I have seen.
When I was an assistant public defender I was able to effective handle my large case load after I obtained the experience to do so. However when the judges, and prosecutor were not willing to work with me to resolve the cases, I had to work nights and weekend to handle my case load, which I did not get paid for. However when the judges and prosecutors were more reasonable/cooperative I could easily handle a large case load. The American Bar Association seems to endorse the principle of prosecutors and judges working to help public defenders deal with high case loads, but unfortunately that does not happen far too often.