January 30, 2007

"Efforts at systematic reform"

A&C reader Mike sent this link to an article in the January 2007 edition of Governing Magazine:

Rights of Defense - Poor people still don't get fair treatment in criminal court. But states are trying to change that.

Jeremy Gersovitz is a lawyer in Helena, Montana. Lately he has been having a pretty good run. In the past few months, his office has added several new attorneys, beefed up its support staff, and completely renovated its technology... None of this would sound unusual if Gersovitz were a partner at a high-priced corporate law firm. But he's a defense attorney for the indigent--the head of the regional public defender's office in Helena. He has a job notorious for crushing its practitioners under mountains of stress and disillusionment. Not too long ago, Gersovitz was feeling a little disillusioned himself, overwhelmed by a sense that he was frantically "treading water." That has changed...

Read the article for nods to Maryland, Louisiana, North Dakota, Georgia and Virginia, and predictions for future anecdotes about "young mothers saved and accidental junkies brought back from the brink by dedicated, well-trained, well-supported public defenders."