• Many Accused No Longer Provided Public Defenders in Louisiana

    March 21, 2016

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America

    justice


    Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the country in general as well as an extraordinary incarceration rate for African Americans, no longer provides public defenders to all its people accused of crimes; within months over half its public defender offices are expected to become insolvent due to lack of state-provided funding.


    This is a conscious decision to not provide Constitutionally-required legal services to the poor.



    You Have the Right…

    You know the drill from countless police dramas, the things mentioned when the cop reads a suspect his/her Miranda Rights: “…you have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford one, one will be appointed for you…”

    The idea is that no one should enter the judicial process without representation and legal advice. One can argue how well the public defender system works in reality, but we can agree that not having any such system at all is worse.

    Want to test that premise? Welcome to Louisiana.



    Gideon v. Wainwright

    The right to an attorney in criminal proceedings is enshrined within the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, it was not until the 1963 Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright that the law established the right to free legal representation for felony criminal defendants who are unable to afford a lawyer and face the possibility of incarceration. Defendants who meet the criteria are assigned either full-time public defenders or lawyers appointed by the court and paid by the hour.

    “Reason and reflection,” Justice Hugo Black wrote in Gideon, “require us to recognize that, in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him.”



    All About the Benjamins

    The Louisiana state public defender indicated that 24 of the 42 local public defender offices will become insolvent and restrict services in the next few months. Public defenders in 13 of Louisiana’s 42 judicial districts are already restricting services. Some public defenders face caseloads of 1000 felonies a year, a rate more than five times as high as a recent caseload study concluded is proper.

    The reason is money.

    Louisiana is facing a huge overall budget deficit of nearly a billion dollars this year, double that next year, due to fiscal problems left by departing governor and once-a-Republican presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal. The state decided it needed to cut expenses and chose to underfund an office that represented a Constitutional right to some of the state’s most vulnerable people.

    Poor people are now more vulnerable than ever to misuse of arrest authority by the police, and racial discrimination in the court process. Of course as guilty verdicts rise, more people will go to prison, but apparently Louisiana is always willing to fund the expansion of its prisons.



    Not Just Lousiana

    Louisiana is not alone in defunding its public defender system. The Florida Supreme Court is considering a similar attempt by the Miami-Dade County public defender’s office to limit its caseload. Last year, the Missouri (home of Ferguson!) Supreme Court authorized public defenders with unmanageable caseloads to decline new cases. Texas routinely refuses to adequately fund county programs for the defense of the poor.

    So alongside the other parts of the Bill of Rights lost in post-Constitutional America, you can now add the Sixth Amendment. If America needed further proof that one gets all the justice one can afford to pay for, just look to Louisiana.

    BONUS: I have been unable to locate any information on any efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to correct this growing trend.



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  • Recent Comments

    • jo6pac said...

      1

      BONUS: I have been unable to locate any information on any efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to correct this growing trend.

      I think you mean the department of injustice and if they do show up it’s only for a photo op.

      03/21/16 10:18 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      The fact that one chooses to live in Louseyanna is proof of mental incapacity.

      03/21/16 12:16 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      3

      I’d like to think that if I were black and had found myself born poor in Mississippi or Louisiana I’d have had to sense to move. Like Nina Simone said- Goddamned Mississippi. She stayed north and went overseas.

      03/21/16 1:21 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      4

      Totally agree re the comment no photo op so no dept of Justice showing up.

      Can we ask on Twitter? Or is Facebook a better venue to ask where the DoJ is on this?

      More dumbing down of our Constitutional rights

      03/21/16 6:42 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      5

      “The reason is money.
      Louisiana is facing a huge overall budget deficit of nearly a billion dollars this year, double that next year, due to fiscal problems left by departing governor and once-a-Republican presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal. ”

      Haha. Isn’t he the one that gave the Republican State of the Union counter speech? What a maroon. Ran for President..hahahahaha. He makes Trump look like George Washington.
      Rich said:
      “The fact that one chooses to live in Louseyanna is proof of mental incapacity.”

      Hey, I was under the impression Hurricane Katrina melted Louisiana into the gulf of Mexico? I guess not. Too bad. I hear you can still smell it from two states away.
      Which reminds me..what’s the difference between Louisiana and a cesspool? Well..one’s a skanky, filthy, ugly, disgusting shithole filled with excrement, and the other is just a human waste repository. 🙂

      Ok, enuff of that stuff. ..wait…wait..

      How many Louisiana public defenders does it take to represent a defendant?
      As many as the defendant can fire for sleeping during his trial.

      sheeezus.. if I had to live in Louisiana…I’d kill myself.

      As for public defenders. When’s the last time you saw one win? I’ve had two of them. They might as well work for the DA. It’s all just required formality shit. One of mine actually joked with the judge about my defense. But at least they’re better than none. You know that joke about acting as your own lawyer. His client is a fool. Well I learned the hard way. My client was a moron. 🙂

      Ok, well, meanwhile…

      Sooprise sooprise sooprise…

      Obama:”Read my lips. No boots on the ground”

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/22/isis-knew-just-where-to-hit-these-u-s-marines.html?google_editors_picks=true

      Fuk.

      03/22/16 6:02 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      6

      Peter…I’m sorry. Given the continuous barrage of the unthinkable over the last 15 yrs, I’ve completely surrendered into a misanthropic curmudgeon. I can no longer help myself.

      03/22/16 6:15 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...

      7

      Pitch,

      Here’s for you if you come back to this thread. Warning, lots of fun bad words. 🙂

      “Louisiana will probably never recover from its Jindaling”:

      http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2016/02/louisiana-probably-will-never-recover.html

      03/22/16 11:33 AM | Comment Link

    • Links 22/3/2016: New Eminent Wine Staging, Red Hat Results Imminent | Techrights said...

      8

      […] Many Accused No Longer Provided Public Defenders in Louisiana […]

      03/22/16 11:55 AM | Comment Link

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