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Former Maryland Public Defender Asks Lawmakers For Changes In Board Role

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The former head of Maryland's Public Defender's Office, who was fired in August, is asking lawmakers to change the law to protect the agency's independence.

Nancy Forster is asking Maryland's Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to increase the size of the board that voted to remove her. Forster also says the board should only play an advisory role in the affairs of the public defenders office.

The board currently has three members. The members voted 2 to 1 to fire Forster after a dispute about staffing. Forster wanted to keep social workers in the office despite serious state budget problems.

Board Chairman T. Wray McCurdy says the public defender's office has seen a big increase in cases and must focus on defending the poor in court. McCurdy argues the office should avoid committing resources to social services already performed by other agencies.

Rebecca Blatt reports...

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