Saturday, April 19, 2008
Note: What do you folks think of this Courier font? Better than the Arial I normally like to use or is it too boring? You don't care, do you?
Our local and federal governments actually PAY people money to defend people accused of crimes.
Sometimes they get paid A LOT of money.
I work for a county office, so my check comes directly from the county. I get paid well and I don't complain. I work about 40-55 hours a week without overtime. Its a rewarding job....blah, blah, blah. You've heard me say this all before, but simply put, I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it.
Many good, honest, tax paying citizens wonder why their tax dollars go to pay for the defense of "criminals." Their concerns are made very vocal during tough times in our local economy and law enforcement, Social services, and even teachers are getting laid off.
The good tax payers of [insert your county here] want to know why it takes 1.1 Million dollars a year to fund a County Operated Public Defenders office when there are parks for the kiddies closing and cops getting the old boot in the ass, because their grant funding ran out.
Its really a good question and nobody likes the answer...Its those damned pesky Constitutional Rights folks. You good taxpaying citizens remember what the Constitution is don't you? Ringing a bell yet? Good. I'm glad.
So, the accused in our country are allowed legal defense in criminal proceedings because the CONSTITUTION SAYS SO.
You wanna argue with that?
I didn't think so.
The problem is, our counties understand that they must provide legal services to the indigent BUT they want to save themselves and the good taxpayers of your county a few bucks, so they decide to get rid of the county operated office and instead hire a private law firm to contract out their criminal cases because...well, its always cheaper!
This is usually about the time when shit hits the fan. Oh yeah, I'm not a big fan of private law firms contracted out to act as "Public Defenders." My experience with them has been extremely negative and one such firm is even mentioned in the article I'm about to talk about.
The San Jose Mercury News (one of my favorite local newspapers) recently published an article by by Karen de Sá on the inadequate legal help received by inmates in California:
A statewide commission reported Thursday that many California counties have cut their spending for impoverished criminal defendants by providing them lawyers whose representation fails to meet constitutional standards.
Counties are increasingly hiring legal firms that offer cut-rate representation by failing to spend money on investigators or experts that are needed for adequate defense, said the report issued by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, created to examine ways to guard against wrongful convictions.
"This is like a cancer within the system of providing indigent defense, and it's spreading," said Gerald Uelmen, executive director of the so-called Fair Commission, calling the spread of low-bid, flat-fee private firms "a race to the bottom.
Its the flat-fee private firms like this that give Public Defender offices a bad name and more importantly, they have a good track record of fucking over clients.
When your local county is trying to save a few bucks in the next fiscal year and the talk turns to considering contracting out Public Defender services...save this article and please get a copy from the California Commission On The Fair Administration Of Justice to show them what a bad idea it is. You can also download it here.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
No job is 100% guaranteed but it still sucks to hear that other Public Defender offices are going to suffer budget cutbacks...which is a not so nice way of saying, Layoffs. An excerpt from an article by reporter, Kelly Foreman of the Richmond (KY) Register:
State budget cuts will hit Madison County courtrooms hard beginning in July, and among those who will feel the effects most will be defendants who cannot afford to hire attorneys and those who represent them.
The Department of Public Advocacy announced this week that a $2.5 million reduction to its annual budget for the upcoming fiscal year will force them to lay off 54 employees and cut a variety of services.
While the full impact of those cuts still are unknown in Madison County, local office Director Scott West said funding to hire attorneys to help in cases with multiple co-defendants, called conflict cases, already is unavailable. One hundred and sixty-one conflict cases were conducted in Richmond during 2007, according to the DPA Annual Case Report.
“That is going to be an immediate thing felt at the Richmond office,” West said.
Friday, April 11, 2008
I wish I was in Las Vegas right now. Not gambling, but attending the last day of the National Defense Investigator Association (NDIA) National Conference in the town I LOOOOOVE to visit...but not for more than 3 days at a time.
For those interested in reading the Conference Agenda, you can read it by clicking here.
For those interested in reading the conference Speaker Bios, you can read them by clicking here.
If you're doing either of the above (clicking and reading the links), you are probably like me, feeling sorry for yourself, sitting behind a computer and NOT at the conference! Damn you work related commitments, damn you!
I've heard good things about the conference from the few people I know who are over there right now, but the conference status reports have been very limited due to the difficulty in picking up the phone when you have a drink in each hand!
Oh well, maybe next year.
For those of you who missed the boat on the NDIA National Conference, The California Defense Investigator Association has an awesome training geared towards Homicide Investigations scheduled for May 15th and 16th. If you can make it, I have a feeling that you won't be disappointed! You can download a copy of their brochure by clicking here.
NOTE TO THE WEBMASTER FOR NDIA: The link you have to my site is actually linked to The Public Defender Investigator Network. Not such a problem, since the site was created by a man I consider a friend (Greg Worthen) but maybe you can link to the both of us?
Monday, April 07, 2008
Jake Ross, chief investigator for the Public Defender's Office, has announced his
candidacy for the District 27 seat in the state House of Representatives. He is
The seat is being vacated by Joyce Cusack because of term limits.
Ross, 63, is a lifelong Volusia County resident, born in DeLand. He has lived in Daytona Beach since 1986.
Ross was a DeLand police officer, a private investigator and an investigator for the state attorney before joining the Public Defender's Office. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bethune-Cookman College (now Bethune-Cookman University) and a master's in criminal justice from St. John's University.
Pledging to be a voice in Tallahassee for the local people, Ross said he plans to fight for lower taxes, better education, protection of seniors and reduction in juvenile crime. This is Ross' first campaign for elected office.
Friday, April 04, 2008
It's a tragic story, deaths in vehicles alway are I suppose, but it really hits home when it happens to one of our own. Robert Hooker was the Public Defender of Pima County in Arizona. My condolences go out to his wife, family, friends and co-workers. I suspect that from what little I know about the man, in the few conversations we had, and from what I've picked up from newspapers, his loss will be felt far and wide.
His Memorial Service is scheduled to me held at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave, at 11:30 a.m. Monday (04/07/2008).