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An appellate court will have to hear the case of public defenders declining cases before it can proceed to the Missouri Supreme Court, the high court ruled Monday.

The Missouri Public Defender Commission appealed Judge John Waters ruling that the Springfield office, which covers Greene, Christian and Taney counties, must represent a man even though the office said it was at maximum case capacity and wouldn't take new clients.

In its Supreme Court filing, the commission argued that the criminal justice system could be in danger if courts continue to assign cases to public defenders beyond caseload limits.

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