Comments about ‘Can a poor American get a fair trial?’

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Published: Thursday, March 28 2013 10:15 a.m. MDT

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You make a good point. We could also consider emotional and prejudiced juries and agenda-driven judges, and a public that is too quick to assume "all is well" with current judicial practice.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

No, there are 2 court systems in America one for precious celebrities athletes, and politicians, and one for the average schmuck who not only pays a lawyer (if they can afford one) but then pays even more to the court system.

if your going to steal make it millions, or you'll go to jail.

Ogden, Utah

The answer is no. Instead of attorneys, we have "negotiators" who work and bargain for plea deals regardless of whether or not a person is guilty or not. It's all based on available funds and risk assessment. If you have very little financial backing you can bet the plea deal will be forthcoming.

Kyle loves BYU/Jazz
Provo, UT

Unfortunately the opposite side of this situation is also true. Many of the poor and minorities who have been victims of crimes don't have their cases prosecuted in the same way as other citizens. The justice system is a misnomer. This comment isn't mean to demean prosecutors or public defenders, I think there are a lot of great ones out there, but courts just do not treat everyone the same. I don't know how we can change that either, but I appreciate articles like this that are at least making us aware of the problem.

Bountiful, UT

Absolutely its possible.

Its not as probable however.

m.g. scott

Yes, I regretfully find myself amoung the cynics who think the system is stacked in the favor of money. F. Lee Bailey once said that the legal system is better in Great Britain because every lawyer (barrister) is equally trained and qualified by the state. In other words, both the prosecuter and defender are lawyers of equal stature. Or, for our purposes you could say, both lawyers have trained at say Harvard Law School, and have passed an equal bar exam, ect. To illustrate it another way.

Question: What do they call the student who graduates LAST in their medical school class.

Answer: Doctor.

Salt Lake City, UT

And if you have lots of money, you can wear down the legal system. In the context of fairness, too little or too much money takes the blindfold off our Lady Justice.

m.g. scott

Continuing my rant. I think it is just too easy to become a lawyer in America. And probably worst of all I'd say about 80% of politicians are themselves lawyers who know that sooner or later they are going to want to leave politics and get on the tort law gravy train. So, with that kind of politician don't expect any tort reform, which we really need.

Lehi, UT

And even if you do hire counsel, often the judges are overwhelmed and don't even spend time on your case. Just recently had this situation--asking to reduce child support and alimony for two years. The judge gives a 4-page decision with no analysis or citation to the law, and gives my ex virtually everything even though she already has $10,000 per month. Justice is not blind, and sounds like we are all getting screwed.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Of course the court system is biased. Paula Jones never got justice; too many people thought it was OK for her attacker to lie to the courts.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

I'm sorry I don't remember paula jones being poor or getting a court appointed lawyer?
I do remember the republicans spending a 100 million dollars trying to prove Clinton had an affair though.
And Paula was WELL represented by the Neocons team of attorneys, and they still couldn't prove anything.



Still, Clinton did get impeached for perjury. That is and will always be part of his legacy. His legacy line by the way is not something like "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country", or "We have nothing to fear but fear itself", or "Tear down this wall Mr. Gorbachev". No, The most famous thing Clinton ever said was "I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinski." What a guy!!!

conservative scientist
Lindon, UT

The question in the title is the wrong question. The vast majority of poor people get a fair trial. In the case mentioned, it seems to state everyone knew he was guilty, and admittedly there may have been problems with his sentencing hearing, but somehow there is an expectation that the guilty go free, or that anyone with mental illness should be given a free pass - which is really twisted thinking. The real question that should be asked is "Is it possible for the rich to get a fair trial?". The answer to this is much less likely as the high profile attorneys care nothing about "fairness" or "justice" but about getting their clients off and way too many O.J. Simpsons and other rich people go free when they should be serving time in prison, just like the poor are properly doing. Our goal should not be to treat everyone like the rich, but to treat the rich like everyone else.

South Jordan, Utah

No, it is not possible. Wealth or lack thereof directly leads to the outcome.

Lowell Steele
Farmington, UT

The other solution, almost universal in western Europe: legal insurance. We've been covered for almost 12 years, with access to excellent law firms across the country. I'm sure public defenders do the best they can, but I'd rather not have to go that route.

Durham, NC

They can... but I wouldn't place money on them getting a fair chance. Some friends of ours had a minor incident where the local DA over charged this person - far beyond anything that happened - just so they would plea out. They had no way to fight it, the public defender was far out gunned, and the whole process was rigged to get them to plea.

What really happened, I don't know. And we will never know. The systems was not set up to get to the right answer, but the most expedient answer. I firmly believe the treatment of our friend was not an exception to the rule, the SOP for our DAs office.

Justice was not only blind folded, but apparently didn't care either.

Farmington, UT

Reminds me of a New Yorker Magazine cartoon. An attorney is conferring with his client: "Mr. Smith, you have a strong case. Just how much justice can you afford?"

Ronald Uharriet
SWun City, Ca.

Great article By Mercedes White, Deseret News “ “Can a poor American get a fair trial?’”

This artice comes at a time when the Republican Party says that we spend too much money on intitlements and that money could be going to give those making over $450,000 per year a lower tax rate than the rest of us.

Usually the focus is on reducing or doing away with Social Security and Medicare, food stamps, programs like HUD and all other programs across the boad that help those that can not help themselves in their time of need. Providing the constitutional right for an attorney in time of need is just one of the many underfunded intitlements that the Republican platform would like to even further under fund in order to provide the tax breaks for the rich that are capable of taking care of themselves.

Clearfield, UT

Stop electing District Attorney's. Let them be apppointed by a non partisan panel. Get politics out of the judicail system. A small step in the right direction.

Kaysville, UT

It appears money may not buy happiness but it will buy an attorney that knows how to wiggle a case out of the system in a court. Politics influence judges and jury's abilities as some politicians put undue pressure through the D.A. is evident, until the next election.

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