Your humble editor apologizes for the fact that the post below appears twice. Chances are this post appears twice, too. Recent updates to WordPress, the software that runs this blog, have left things a little bit of a mess. Apologies. Working on it…
In the latest installment of “Monday Musings,” the weekly interview series at Public Defender Stuff, the author of the blog entitled “A Public Defender” talks about his life in the criminal defense trenches, and why he loves his job:
there is nothing more important that one can do today than be a public defender (or criminal defense attorney). There is not a single more important document in this country than The Constitution and it is our job to enforce it and to protect the rights of everyone. For today’s public defender (or prosecutor) could be tomorrow’s criminal defendant.
“Gideon” also gives a good perspective on working in the Connecticut public defender system, a system from which it sounds like Montana might learn a thing or two:
From what I have seen and read (and obviously my own personal experience), Connecticut has one of, if not the, best public defender systems in the country. Last year, the budget was in the vicinity of $36million and there are about 200 attorneys hired full-time. There is a centralized Office of the Chief Public Defender and then various sub-offices at each and every courthouse. Most courts are split up into two parts: Part A and Part B (also called the Judicial District and the Geographical Area courts). There is a public defender office for each J.D. and each G.A. Each office has anywhere from 3-15 attorneys. On top of that, we have three specialized units that don’t operate out of a specific courthouse: The Legal Services Unit (Appellate), The Habeas Corpus Unit and the Capital Defense Unit. I believe either the PD system in general or the Capital Unit specifically received some sort of national recognition award a year or two ago. Almost all offices are more than adequately staffed.
According to “Gideon” and this history, the great system Connecticut has today has been a long time coming and is at least partially the result of an ACLU lawsuit that forced the state to improve its indigent defense system. (Scroll down to the history since 1995.) Sound familiar? Currently the MT legislature is threatening to slash the budget of its new statewide public defender system by $7.4 million. (What could possibly be left!?) Let’s just hope that 10 years from now the system has survived and grown to be as healthy as the Connecticut system sounds.
The unicorn was driving. That was the story a Billings man gave police after crashing a pickup truck into a light pole. (Try making a good bond argument after that; I dare you.) ⇒
When you spend every day in the trenches fighting the big and small battles of criminal defense it’s easy to miss the big big picture, such as the fact that your legislators are currently debating whether to end the death penalty—forever. And one of our star public defenders is right in the middle of the mix:
“I am sick of doing this work,” said Ed Sheehy Jr., the Missoula public defender who fought for Dawson’s right to die. “I had to argue his interests … I can tell you it is something you will never forget.”
(Note: You know you need to read the papers more when you learn about news like this from a pro-death prosecutor.)
[tags]death penalty, legislation[/tags]
A 16-year-old fugitive believed to have posted a “Catch me if you can” message on his MySpace Web page was captured Friday, three days after his escape from a detention center, an official said. ⇒