August 22, 2004

Unequal Defense, Chapter IV (in a seemingly never-ending story)

The injustice keeps flowing like a mighty stream in Grant County, Washington. Today the Seattle Times reports on a first-degree murder case with two 12-year-old defendants, in a criminal justice system where "(t)he trial judge has been censured for incompetence, the prosecutor has been convicted of a drug felony, and the county's public-defense system is the subject of a class-action lawsuit." The boys will be the youngest murder defendants tried as adults in Washington state, and trial begins September 14.

It's a well-researched, well-written, truly horrifying read. You ought to click over to the article to get the full sense of disaster unfolding. If you don't, let me at least pass on one bit of advice for the aspiring public defender: if you have been practicing for all of four years, you have 110 felonies in your caseload, you get a murder case involving a 12-year-old, and more experienced colleagues and experts are volunteering to help out you and your client, your best response is not going to be:

"What does that help, getting an attorney in from Portland, or Seattle, or Timbuktu? How does that help? Is there something about my law degree that is somehow less because I have an office in Grant County? I find that a little offensive. Maybe I'm young and cocky, but I think I'm pretty good."

Tool. Get over yourself. It's about the client, not about you.

(Previous posts about The Black Hole of Ephrata are Chapter I, Chapter II, and Chapter III.)

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Argh...annonymous blogging. Drop me a line. I'd love to chat about Blawging in Idaho. Stephen Nipper (,