Without money there is no "fair" trial. For a "fair" trial you
have to hire/pay for legal counsel to represent you and your interests. Public
defenders are legal counsel for the accused but do not represent the accused or
their interest in an actual defense. Sad to say but our system here is broken as
As a retired paralegal, I've long been appalled by the inconsistency of
public defenders. I've worked with some who were better than retained
counsel, and have encountered others so bad I could never understand how they
passed the Bar exam. All of them tend to be overloaded with too many cases and
are often underpaid for the work they do. Sending people to trial
with inadequate or incompetent counsel is only one step removed from mob
Retired (*) after 35 years of practice in Texas including insurance defense,
some plaintiff's work, criminal trials and appeals, many court appointed,
up through non-capital murder, etc., and having been a litigant, I have seen the
system fail, including convictions later proven factually wrong and coerced
pleas by the innocent, many times, I think Justice Jefferson (whose court
doesn't hear criminal appeals) is right on several points. Winning cases,
lower sentences, or points of law for poor criminal defendants while paid by the
county makes you very unpopular with the county commissioners who control
budgeting and the voters, and thus with some elected judges. The defendants see
you as not a real lawyer and not loyal even when you work hard for them and win.
. I was defendant in a case where the verbatim record correctly says my
appointed lawyer was given "2 or 3 minutes," after the trial began, to
review reams of actual and alleged evidence and interview witnesses who were not
present or available, The Bar spends a fortune on its "legal services to the
poor in civil cases" committee and I can't get legal counsel for love
One thing that always puzzled me as a voter was, why are we electing judges and
DAs when most of the voters have not a lot of experience in fields that equip
them to know what in these peoples' backgrounds gives them the ability to
qualify to fill those posts over and above the others on the ballot? Did they
show some unique ability to understand the nuances of the state and local laws?
Do they know the legal history, and how it is relevant to modern jurisprudence?
Have they spent time doing any pro bono work, working in different courts, so
that they understand how various courts (traffic, child/family, for instance)
work, how they differ, how they are similar? What are their interests, both in
and out of their field? What concerns them? These things are never presented,
nor would there be time; some of it would be technical if done properly. Should
the judges, then, not be appointed, and the attorneys not attain their positions
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
No, it is not possible. Wealth or lack thereof directly leads to the outcome.
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.
RE: HVHStill, 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!!!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Absolutely its possible.Its not as probable however.
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.
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.
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.
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.