Published Thu, Jan 17, 2013 2:13 pm Dateline
An Athens municipal court judge has decided an Ohio University student does not qualify for a public defender in her case, possibly setting the tone for other students' future legal battles.
In a decision released Thursday from Judge William Grim, 21-year-old Kelly Kasler does not qualify as being eligible for a public defender based on her family's household income.
Kasler is accused of two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and obstructing official business stemming from an October 2012 incident.
At heart in the matter was whether a student, financially dependent on their parents but living on their own at school, could be evaluated on solely their income.
"The issue in this matter is how to define household income for a young adult who is financially dependent on his or her parents but my have a temporary separate residence," writes Grim.
Grim wrote that with Ohio University and Hocking College, Athens County has as many as 25,000 temporary residents who could fall into this category.
While Grim ruled against giving Kasler appointed counsel for her case, he said future requests would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The state public defender has taken the position that parents' income should not be considered if the defendant is an adult.
Grim also wrote in his decision that Kasler, as an Ohio University student, had the opportunity to use student legal services for $12 a semester, but opted out of the program.
"A decision to decline available legal representation does not create a need where none existed before," wrote Grim.
"To dilute the resources of the program to include those able to employ counsel would be a disservice to those truly in need," he said.
Kasler's pre-trial hearing is set for January 28 at 8 a.m.