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Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina

More Katrina-related disaster: The public defender's sytem in New Orleans is dead.

Check out the news reports from Washington Post AP, and Henry Weinstein of the LA Times. More than 4000 people without a lawyers spells disaster again.

One month after Katrina, the Orleans Indigent Defender Board laid off more than 30 of its public defenders, said Tessier. There are now only four part-time public defenders in New Orleans, he said.

"My guess is that we have 4,500 people who have been sitting in jail for up to six months and haven't seen a lawyer," Tessier said. "The issue is what do we do with those people if we don't have public defenders for them and don't have money for lawyers."

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  • Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 10:20:07 AM EST
    "The issue is what do we do with those people if we don't have public defenders for them and don't have money for lawyers."
    Well...the constitution says they must be released. I can live with 4500 criminals being released before I can live with one innocent man being held for 6 months without due process.

    Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 10:36:04 AM EST
    Now there's a surprise. Are you even concerned about what they are waiting trial for. Or is it that you don't live in N.O., and you don't really care about what the law abiding citizens there are going to have to deal with after you let them go.

    Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#3)
    by roy on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 10:47:33 AM EST
    Variable, Wipe the Cracker Jack powder off your copy of the Constitution. It seems to have spelled out "offer void in case of hurricane" by freak chance. (I got mine out of a box of Alpha-Bits, which helps explain why I used to vote Republican)

    Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#4)
    by Lora on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 10:55:43 AM EST
    If you're concerned about the consequences of letting them go, then get them a lawyer. Now!

    Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 11:26:21 AM EST
    This is not just happening in New Orleans, but all over the Katrina-affected area. (The news glosses over this too much, but the parts damaged by Katrina go from about 50 miles west of New Orleans to just east of the Alabama/ Mississippi state line. Quite a bit more than just New Orleans.) I live in New Orleans but am from one of the suburban parishes. There, a friend's uncle is still in jail, where he's been since at least August, for possession of a small amount of marijuana. He has not seen a lawyer yet, to my knowledge, and he can't afford bail or a non-public defender. Katrina hit on August 29 of last year, and it's now Feb. 10. You can add up the months and decide if it's worth it to keep this man in jail for pot possession. Oh, and guess whose tax dollars are paying for this, for all the wingers on this site? I tell this story lest anyone think that we're only talking about murderers or about just the city of New Orleans...

    Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 11:33:18 AM EST
    I would think more to the point.....the democrats running N.O. are not concerned with providing them lawyers, so the libs at the L.A. Times and WAPO, and KDog, have come up with the brilliant plan of letting them go........to hell with all their victims, lets let them all go. After all, we all know that when it comes to N.O. and Katrina, the only real criminals are sitting in the Whitehouse.

    Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 12:30:09 PM EST
    I didn't say letting them go was a good thing, or an ideal situation, or a "brilliant plan". I merely said that letting them go is what the law says to do when they do not have access to a lawyer. The alternative is tyranny over innocent men. Variable, I can see that you have no problem with innocent men being caged for up to 6 months. Safety before freedom...right?

    Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 02:45:37 PM EST
    As our President likes to say, you have to score the policy dynamically. If you schedule 45 jailed defendants a day, assign no more than 20-30 per public defender (total), and release everyone who doesn't get a lawyer on speedy trial grounds, in a week, the legislature will have passed an emergency bill to provide every one of those 4,500 people with a lawyer. If the prosecutor's office is concerned in the meantime, it needs to triage and agree to dismiss cases against those whom it is least worried about so that the worst threats to the public are assigned lawyers and given due process so that they can be tried and possibly convicted.

    Re: Public Defender System Crushed by Katrina (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Feb 11, 2006 at 12:59:44 AM EST
    variable's attitude is typical of Bush and his supporters. If requiring law enforcement authorities to follow the law does not produce the outcome they want, they argue that the law can be ignored to produce the "right" result, regardless of people's rights under the law. What a bunch of fascists!