February 19, 2009

MN: "it should be about justice and not about the cost"

The beleagured underpaid watchdog of justice trope again, this time from MinnPost.com:

A stark contrast in courts: Upstairs, the pricey lawyer-filled Coleman-Franken trial; downstairs, an overworked public defender

Michael Kunkel's work was done. For the moment... His hearing before the Minnesota Court of Appeals, including rapid-fire, rugged questioning from the three justices, was over. But his day was not. Kunkel, 29, was gathering his belongings for a parole hearing in Anoka County 25 miles (away). He has another 30 or so cases on his desk back at the State Public Defender's Office...

Just so happens Kunkel's venue today was Courtroom 200 of the Minnesota Judicial Center. It's directly beneath Courtroom 300, the daily venue for the Norm Coleman - Al Franken recount trial. Same building, different stage. Same justice system, different approach. Same profession, different league... ..It may seem a stretch to juxtapose the Franken - Coleman trial, its high-powered lawyers and its absentee ballots with Kunkel and his indigent sex offender client who needs a public defender to assist him...

In this case it is a stretch. Perhaps my days in the two-tier system have drained my outrage, but I'm not offended that in a close U.S. Senate race with national implications, the suits have taken over one courtroom. Besides, it provides an opportunity for curious reporters to take the elevator down to the depths where we work, and to bring back stories of the routine inequities that they find.