Sunday, November 9, 2008

Major Problems with Public Defenders

Kudos to the Times for covering this travesty. Check out the idiot quote from the FL State Sen. Victor Crist: Defenders' offices could increase efficiency by, for example, carefully choosing which cases require depositions and other time-consuming actions."

Basically, this guy is saying that a lawyer should not focus zealous advocacy for an individual client, but rather should spread his resources so that each client gets less. That goes against the spirit of Gideon, and it also goes against the canons of professional responsibility. States have a duty to provide competent, adequate representation to every indigent defendant they choose to prosecute.

This Times artile is actually quite timely: SCOTUS will be soon hear a case on certiorari to the Supreme Court of Vermont dealing with a related issue. The Vermont court vacated a conviction of a defendant who sat in jail for three years between arrest and trial, largely because his court-appointed lawyers were so overworked they couldn't address his case.

All law school types can check out the opinion here; all non-law school types can read this blog about the case. More to follow when they actually take argument.

Citing Workload, More Public Defenders Are Refusing New Cases -

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