NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — North Dakota Legal Aid, which provides lawyers for criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire their own, is now struggling to find staff attorneys as its case numbers climb.
The agency is requesting increased legal aid funding from the Legislature, for additional positions and pay increases for staff and contract attorneys, in order to meet the need.

The agency handled over 16,000 cases during the 2022 fiscal year, which ended in June. That’s about equal to the previous year, but an 11% increase from the 2020 fiscal year.
Not only are the number of cases increasing, but the types of crimes statewide have also gotten more serious and take more time for attorneys. Even juvenile crimes have increased.
Furthermore, according to Legal Aid, the total number of cases in this current fiscal year is already outpacing the two previous years.

The agency currently has a two-year $20.9 million budget. 

Legal aid is asking for a $2 million increase.