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BOISE -- Members of an Idaho Senate panel believe it's time to take a closer look at the condition of the state's public defender system.

The network of public defenders has been plagued by staffing shortages in recent years and criticized by civil rights groups as insufficient in some counties.

The Senate Judiciary and Rules committee voted Monday to approve a resolution calling for the creation of a legislative committee to study the issue this summer.

Caldwell Republican Rep. Darrell Bolz said Idaho's Criminal Justice Commission has also found some problems, including excessive caseloads.

He said only three counties have public defenders offices. The other counties, he said, regularly use contract attorneys to complete public defense work.

The resolution already by passed the House now heads to the Senate floor.

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