Thursday, April 21, 2005

If you cannot afford a lawyer . . .

Via Indiana Public Defender, a good article about just how poor you have to be to get a court-appointed lawyer in Concecticut. Although it focuses on the law and procedures in Connecticut, it has some discussion about similar problems around the country. Where I practice, I definitely see this problem. Some misdemeanor judges won't appoint a public defender to anyone who posted bond. For many misdemeanor cases, the person only had to come up with $50 to post bond. That doesn't mean they have the funds to hire a decent attorney for a jury trial. Of course, that often works to the judge's advantage, because the person takes a plea and doesn't "crowd up" the trial docket.


Blogger Gideon said...

I've thought about this before and it really is a problem - the standard for "indigence" is so low that it really is a big problem. Yet, there are so many people who are classified indigent, as evidenced by the high PD caseloads.

4/21/2005 1:37 PM  
Blogger 123txpublicdefender123 said...

And, on the other hand, I resent it when a judge appoints me to a case just because the defendant is too stubborn to hire his own lawyer. I once sat down with a client wearing a very expensive suit, and as I explained his legal options, I saw that he was taking notes on his Palm Pilot!

4/21/2005 2:16 PM  
Blogger Gideon said...

Hahaha. Yeah, that judicial discretion sucks. Usually, the judge believes us when we tell him that a client is not eligible, but sometimes they just want to move things along and the client is just too damn lazy and they appoint us.

I had a client (briefly) who was a member of an Indian tribe. Apparently, they receive a $10,000 monthly stiped for being part of the tribe. Needless to say, he wasn't a client very long.

4/21/2005 3:29 PM  
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