A judge is accused of dismissing mental illness. These lawyers want him off their cases

Florida’s Miami-Dade County is home to the highest rate of serious mental illness for any urban area in the United States, by some counts.

But public defenders there say one of the county’s judges doesn’t take the issue seriously, alleging that he spoke dismissively of the challenge mental illness poses for many defendants.

“I don’t buy it,” lawyers recall Judge Michael Barket telling them over doughnuts in his chambers after one of them discussed the high rates of issues such as mental illness and substance abuse among her often-impoverished clients.
Now the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office wants the judge kicked off cases. The office says his attitude compromises his ability to give clients in six of their cases fair rulings.

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