BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — An investigation into the East Baton Rouge Public Defender’s office has been called after the workplace has been described as “toxic.”

In the span of roughly 10 months, more than 30 employees have been fired or quit after Lisa Parker stepped into the role as the new Chief Public Defender.

Baton Rouge resident Natasha Neely said she loved her job at the public defender’s office and was crushed when she was let go last Friday, despite describing the environment of the office as unhealthy.

“When I met Lisa we talked, I thought she was, you know, a very stern person, but I thought she was maybe a person that wanted to get in and get things done, you know, the right way, which… that quickly changed,” Neely said.

Parker has been the Chief Public Defender for less than a year after replacing her predecessor who had been there for decades. But high turnover rates coupled with complaints from her staff have State Representative C. Denise Marcelle calling for an investigation.

“There have been several issues that have been reported to me regarding the loss of employees and attorneys,” Marcelle said.

In a letter to the public defender board, Marcelle questions Parker’s moral compass.

“I don’t want to run their office, I just wanted it to operate in a fashion where I’m not getting calls about the person running the office bullying the employees,” Marcelle shared.

Neely said Parker was intimidating and the morale in the office is low.

“Dull, it’s, it’s gloomy, you don’t want to go in but what you got to, you need to get it done,” Neely recalled.

With so much of the staff gone, Marcelle alleged that court cases are clogging up the system.

“I believe that trickles down to the indigent defenders,” Marcelle said.

Family members of people waiting for a trial are reaching out for help. Marcelle read an email allowed from a woman who wants to be anonymous.

“She has been forced to just sit and wait, she has been there for 30 days and hasn’t had a public defender,” Marcelle said as she read aloud.

Neely said she observed clients and family members lose patience.

“The clients that are coming over, they are very frustrated,” Neely said. “Half of them don’t know who their public defender is, they don’t know when they are going to court. One day the lawyer is here and the next day the lawyer is gone.”

Marcelle is asking for an emergency investigation.

“Well I think the board certainly needs to look at what has happened over there and what has happened and it’s not just the employees now, it’s the judges.”

Marcelle said the complaints are not only coming from employees but the judges, and she hopes to schedule a meeting with them soon to uncover the extent of the frustration.

“If it affects the 19th judicial judges, it’s going to ultimately affect the DA’s office, and I am going to have a call into them as well,” Marcelle said.

Marcelle says several of the former employees were denied a payout for their vacation and are now suing Parker and the Public Defender’s office — which will cost the taxpayer.

We reached out to Parker but she refused to comment.