MISSOULA, Mont. -

Three state deputy public defenders have filed a petition to the Montana Supreme Court seeking to stop Missoula County district court judges from sending cases involving indigent defendants to other counties.
    
The Missoulian reports (http://bit.ly/19HqPgZ) the three public defenders contend the practice is to punish defendants who try to change judges.
    
Public defenders Brian Smith, Joan Burbridge and Katie Green filed the petition Oct. 8.
    
The attorneys contend they represent five people charged with crimes who requested their cases be moved out of Judge John Larson's court.
    
The petition says Larson invited other 4th Judicial District judges to take the cases but they declined, with the cases being moved out of the county.
    
Burbridge says the end result has a chilling effect on a person's statutory right to change judges.