September 09, 2004

No enemies on the left...oh, uh, never mind

Kirsten Anderberg "went to law school 1) to protect myself from cops who were hassling me as a street performer, and 2) to help the poor." Now she shares this insight that there's no difference between prosecutors and public defenders, just like there's no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. And if that seems so 2000 to you, know that if she voted, it wouldn't be for "another white elitist male attorney named Nader," so there.

Anderberg advises, "At this point, the way the prosecutors and public defenders treat clients, it is very hard to distinguish *who actually is* on the side of the client." This is brilliant advice for the would-be activist planning on getting busted between now and election day: you might as well talk to the prosecutor as the public defender. Better yet, don't talk to your public defender at all, the statist rat.

She concludes, "And there are no safe alternatives in our criminal injustice system either. Either way the *state* controls it all. The *state* controls the prosecutors and the public defenders. And the victims have little to no say, or recourse, to that two party, state paid, criminal injustice system."

Great. Stop the presses - Criminal Justice System Sucks. Well, until that glorious day when all of America is like Barcelona under the POUM, if people are going to engage in political actions that carry the risk of arrest, that's exactly the belly of the criminal injustice beast they're going to find themselves in. While they're in it, they might want to listen to what their public defender/trail guide has to say about finding an exit, before dismissing everything the PD says. Either that, or don't such be a lump: arrange your own lawyer or resolve to represent yourself before you get in trouble.

I have lots of p.d. comrades on "The Left" (if there is such a creature), good Movement veterans and Guild members among them, who bust their hearts and brains out for their clients. They've got to get tired of every new news item about the venality and corruption of public defenders. But when an activist or a client comes up with the system-shattering revelation that "the public defender gets his paycheck from the same government who pays the prosecutor, AH-HA!," I just want to quote one of my heroes: "Be quiet, and let me do my work in peace."

Oh, and "public pretender?" Hey, I've never heard that one before. Now excuse me please, I've got to go get tomorrow's marching orders from my statist paymasters.

(P.S.: for extra credit, go to one of her other essays, and see if you can catch 1. where she gives legal advice after pointedly writing, "I'm not giving legal advice", 2. where she gives advice on how to generate conflict with your p.d., and 3. where she assumes that Clarence Gideon was African-American.) (also scroll down the comments section there to some heart-felt, well-written rebuttals by a New York City "PD who cares more")

Update: In the wake of the Republican National Convention, the People's Law Collective and National Lawyers Guild earlier advised: "If you have already been arraigned you should have either been arraigned by an NLG attorney or by a public defender. If the public defender was a Legal Aid lawyer, then the National Lawyer’s Guild is asking that you stay with your Legal Aid attorney, because there aren’t enough NLG attorneys to take all of the cases. PLC, NLG and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys have been working together and we trust Legal Aid and think they will do a good job."