Defendants’ legal rights undermined by budget cuts

Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by gator996, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. gator996
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    gator996 New Member

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eric-holder-defendants-legal-rights-undermined-by-budget-cuts/2013/08/22/efccbec8-06bc-11e3-9259-e2aafe5a5f84_story.html

    Defendants’ legal rights undermined by budget cuts
    By Eric H. Holder Jr., Published: August 22

    Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that everyone who is charged with a serious crime has the right to an attorney. In Gideon v. Wainwright, Justice Hugo Black observed for the court that “in our adversary system, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured of a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him.” As a prosecutor, as a judge and as our nation’s attorney general, I have seen this reality firsthand.

    Despite the promise of the court’s ruling in Gideon, however, the U.S. indigent defense systems — which provide representation to those who cannot afford it — are in financial crisis, plagued by crushing caseloads and insufficient resources. And this year’s forced budget reductions, due largely to sequestration, are further undermining this critical work.

    In stark contrast to many state defender programs, the federal public defender system has consistently served as a model for efficiency and success. According to court statistics, as many as 90 percent of federal defendants qualify for court-appointed counsel, and the majority of criminal cases prosecuted by the Justice Department involve defendants represented by well-qualified, hardworking attorneys from federal defender offices. Yet draconian cuts have forced layoffs, furloughs (averaging 15 days per staff member) and personnel reductions through attrition. Across the country, these cuts threaten the integrity of our criminal justice system and impede the ability of our dedicated professionals to ensure due process, provide fair outcomes and guarantee the constitutionally protected rights of every criminal defendant.

    I join with those judges, public defenders, legal scholars and countless other criminal justice professionals who have urged Congress to restore these resources, to provide needed funding for the federal public defender program and to fulfill the fundamental promise of our criminal justice system.

    The Justice Department is strongly committed to supporting indigent defense efforts through an office known as the Access to Justice Initiative, which I launched in 2010, and a range of grant programs. The department took this commitment to a new level on Aug. 14 by filing a statement of interest in the case of Wilbur v. City of Mt. Vernon — asserting that the federal government has a strong interest in ensuring that all jurisdictions are fulfilling their obligations under Gideon and endorsing limits on the caseloads of public defenders so they can provide quality representation to each client.
  2. MichiGator2002
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    MichiGator2002 VIP Member

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    He is full of crap, to be blunt. They are playing to the deeply gullible who will believe that the first dollar less that the government *increases* spending by year over year, let alone were any to actually be cut, is the indispensible dollar. Maybe he should call off vindictive and legally baseless pet projects like ignoring the USSC's voting rights act ruling or investigating George Zimmerman for charges the FBI already established would be baseless and redirect that loose change to the defender's office if he is being serious.
  3. gator996
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    gator996 New Member

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    So is it more costly to hire private attorneys?

    Do public defenders have ridiculous case loads that are now supported by fewer hours of work?

    Does that affect the quality of public defense?

    Is that good public policy?


    http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_23794910/sequester-hit-u-s-attorney-public-defenders-minnesota

    Sequester to hit public defenders, U.S. attorney in Minnesota

    By David Hanners
    dhanners@pioneerpress.com
    Posted: 08/04/2013 12:01:00 AM CDT


    For half a century, it has been a sacred promise of the American legal system: If you are accused of a crime and too poor to afford a lawyer, the courts will provide one.

    But with the automatic spending cuts of the budget sequester poised to take effect Oct. 1, federal officials in Minnesota say they are worried about whether they can keep that promise. Nationally, the public defenders service is facing a 23 percent cut, and Minnesota's Federal Defender, Katherian Roe, said she would probably have to cut her office's staff from 18 people to 10, a 45 percent cut, to be able to continue to pay for rent and other fixed costs.

    U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, chief judge of the District of Minnesota, said he is "deeply disturbed" about the cuts and warned, "At some point, things will start breaking down."

    "It will severely hamper the administration of justice, period," Davis said in an interview. The cuts, he said, "will reverberate through our system from day one."

    In the District of Minnesota, almost nine of every 10 criminal defendants use the services of the Federal Defender's office.

    Without a last-minute deal in Congress, the budget cuts will come the same year that courts nationwide mark the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that defendants in state courts have a constitutional right to have a lawyer appointed for them if they can't afford one. (Federal criminal defendants got that Sixth Amendment guarantee of representation in a Supreme Court ruling 25 years earlier.)

    "Before Gideon, the issue was denial of representation," Roe said. "The issue now is going to be under representation, whether you're going to be able to provide adequate resources to represent people charged with federal crimes."


    The Senate Judiciary Committee -- on which both of Minnesota's senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, serve -- held a hearing on the matter July 23.

    At the hearing, 40 former federal judges and prosecutors presented a letter saying the cuts "undermine not only the Federal Defender system, but the entire federal judiciary, without achieving any real cost savings."
  4. gator996
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    gator996 New Member

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    http://www.npr.org/2013/08/24/214997385/sequestration-is-costly-in-public-defenders-offices
    Cutting Public Defenders Can Cost Federal Government More
    by Ted Robbins

    August 24, 2013 5:31 AM

    The sequester was supposed to save money. But in this case, the sequester is costing federal dollars.

    In Arizona, using private attorneys costs the government about 25 percent more than using public defenders — that's about $6 million a year. In other places around the country, the difference can be even greater.

    A typical case in Tucson illustrates the problem: A driver tries crossing from Mexico into the United States through a port of entry. A customs officer gets suspicious and discovers 180 pounds of marijuana in the car. The driver is arrested, and the court appoints a lawyer.

    When the lawyer meets with the client, public defender Vicki Brambl says, there's a twist.

    "The client reveals that he had been threatened by drug cartels, that he didn't want to bring the marijuana across," she explains. "But he was threatened, and the life of his wife and children were threatened, and so he agreed to cross the marijuana."

    She says that's an increasingly common situation as drug cartels extend their influence in Mexico. But the client has to prove his story in court. He needs witnesses to corroborate it. "You have to investigate that and try to talk to family members," she says.

    That takes legwork. The public defender has investigators and paralegals on staff and built into its budget. Private lawyers have to hire people like investigators, then charge the court piecemeal.

    Brambl says even things like travel cost more. Public defenders carpool in government vehicles to meet with clients at the federal prison in Florence, Ariz. Private lawyers get paid separately to drive back and forth.
  5. MichiGator2002
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    MichiGator2002 VIP Member

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    Is any of that supposed to do anything other than prove my point that there is a fraud being presented that the government can never make do with one red cent less, ever? You are the perfect mark for that scam.
  6. gator996
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    gator996 New Member

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    I acknowledge your point....care to answer those general questions I threw out to you?


    Is the right to a competent defense OK to be infringed upon when we chose finances over justice & the constitution?

    And there's a very legitimate argument that your not even choosing finances since its actually costing the American taxpayer more....


    So is this GOP economic theory is more important than the defense of the accused by the state?
  7. MichiGator2002
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    I think it is a false premise to try to define prejudice to a defense in terms of a static agency wide budget line. That certainly isn't what a court will look at to respond to a motion on the subject. Plus, there are misconceptions throughout -- the right to representation and to a trial does not carry with it a right to someone else paying for any and all defense strategies or witnesses imaginable under the sun.
  8. gator996
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    gator996 New Member

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    Who's talking about defending everything "imaginable under the sun"...

    Talk about taking a leap!

    What, you don't believe the public defenders office is already overloaded with cases?

    The sequester in this case is costing you more and what's the reasonable result?

    Are you arguing that the defense is improved when hours worked & the pool of available lawyers is cut?
    :huh:
  9. g8orbill
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    I have yet to see a liberal ever want to cut spending

    hell they use a reduction in base line budgeting as a cut-totally disingenuous
  10. gator996
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    gator996 New Member

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    bil, that might be true but isn't really the point of this thread

    Is delivering on the rights in the constitution also submissive to budget concerns?


    What other constitutional rights can be impaired by national financial condition?
    (Ignoring the fact the sequester is actually costing us more money..)


    Why don't we impair the 2nd amendment a little bit and start charging & registering guns.
    (At least we'll make some money!!)


    Maybe a National Poll Tax?

    :grin:
  11. OB1
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    Do you honestly believe our government could charge enough to cover the cost of registering all the guns? Or would it be something like he TSA?

    It's Great to be a Florida Gator!
  12. MichiGator2002
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    MichiGator2002 VIP Member

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    996, I just don't think Holder has articulated a legitimate problem. You can only spell out this problem if you define all defendants as having an aggregate right to counsel and the effective assistance thereof, but that isn't the legal or philosophical reality. Each defendant, standing alone, has those rights, and it is in each case that whether some circumstance is prejudicing the defense is evaluated.

    Are there actual federal prosecutions where defendants have successfully argued they can't get an adequate defense because of federal budgeting? Because my answer to a broad categorical whining with no actual instances to support it would be to ask Holder, or you, "who gives a damn?" At least demonstrate the potential in some coherent fashion where the only possible way it could have been avoided would have been more money -- which is to say, all other money has been spent prudently and responsibly and effectively and no other money exists in the budget that can be used here.
  13. gator996
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    gator996 New Member

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    The sequester cuts are just beginning to hit.
    That's why the recent stories about the new per hourly rate private attorneys will be compensated, the DOJ who is hiring non-paid attorneys, etc.

    You think its only Holder saying this?
    How about the opinions of the 40 former federal judges?


    There isn't even a rational argument against being made by anyone.

    Public defense is understaffed & underfunded already by all accounts

    And in much criticism may already be lacking adequate defense standards



    The sequester cuts are helping the situation?

    Would you like to be defended by counsel that had no time to work on your case, nor the money?

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