January 31, 2008

WA: pitting public defender agencies against each other

An article pretty much siding with one Seattle p.d. office over another, from the Seattle Weekly:

Is This Really the Best Defense? - Nickels' critics wonder if defendants have suffered since the mayor put public-defense contracts out to bid

"I think [the city] took a competent system and trashed it," says Seattle University law professor John Strait. He points, as evidence, to a recent city auditor's report that showed fewer cases going to trial. Traditionally, the overwhelming majority of criminal cases end with a plea. But the "jury trial rate" at muni court has fallen further under the city's new system. For every 100 cases, only 0.98 went to trial in 2006, versus 1.35 in 2004. That's a 27 percent decline.

Janet Ainsworth, also a law professor at Seattle University..., calls the shift "the canary in the coal mine. That's a signal that the system isn't working..."

Remember, though, "trial is not the measure of a public defender, nor is it ever good to push to trial for yourself when it’s not what your client wants..." My style is much more ACA than TDA, but I still go to trial when it's what the client wants. In fact, my client and I just spent the whole day in one.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I worked at TDA, and it is a totally client centered office. The lawyers aggressively defend their clients, and always give their clients autonomy. The suggestion that TDA attys have some sort of agenda that clashes with the needs of their clients is CRAZY, as is the suggestion that TDA attys exploit clients to affect broader changes in the system. And to suggest that somehow ACA get better plea deals is also crazy--the TDA attorneys are the best and the brightest, and far superior trial attorneys to the ACA folks. That leads to better deals.