April 30, 2009

ID: Canyon Co low-bid defense? No

From Dennis at SCOIDBlog:

Canyon County & State of Idaho Sued Over Public Defender Services

The Canyon County Public Defenders have sued the State and Canyon County. Wiebe and Fouser, P.A. currently holds the public defender contract, but recently the county invoked a 90-day termination provision and then sought bids. The complaint alleges that the County Board of Commissioners stated that it "wanted to find the bottom" on costs for public defender services...

From the Idaho Press - Tribune:

County, state face lawsuit

Is this part of a national trend?

Cutting and gutting indigent defense? Well, yes, it has been. PD's pushing back? I hope so.

( though the author seems to see the nefarious hand of the ACLU behind all this, the article also has links to the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief ( pdf files 1, 2, 3 ) and some courthouse gossip )

April 23, 2009

WA: Grant County gets it in gear

From the Wenatchee World:

Public defense pilot project posts dramatic results in Grant County

Two years ago, 93 juveniles arrested for crimes in Grant County pleaded guilty at their first court appearance before an attorney was even assigned to them. Last year, only one child did.

Grant County was one of three places in the state chosen for a pilot project last year aimed at providing better defense for indigent and juvenile people who are charged in Washington. The state provided $100,000 to hire an attorney to be present at every juvenile's first court appearance in Grant County.

As a result, not only did those children not plead guilty without knowing all their options, but many of them were able to participate in treatment and counseling programs and received deferred sentences rather than detention for their crimes...

April 21, 2009

ID: another proud to be from Idaho moment

From the Idaho State Journal:

Inmate duct taped

The first hint that Nicklas Frasure's hearing was going to be unusual came at the outset when the man attempted to fire his court-appointed counsel. It eventually culminated with the man's mouth bound with duct tape in an attempt to quell his frequent and irrational outbursts...

The attempt to fire the p.d.? Not unusual. The duct tape? Unusual. Cruel and unusual? Who am I to judge? It's Idaho. (regards to court - appointed counsel, a law school classmate of mine)

April 16, 2009

Reclaiming futures, one blog at a time

By request ( and by professional and personal interest ):

Reclaiming Futures Launches Blog Dedicated to Substance Abuse and Teens in the Juvenile Justice System

Reclaiming Futures Every Day is a professionally-staffed blog that aims to keep people informed of the latest happenings in juvenile justice and substance abuse treatment. Launched by Reclaiming Futures, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, it can be found at http://blog.reclaimingfutures.org, and is designed to help readers:

* Discuss the national challenge of helping teens break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime.
* Comment on new developments in teen alcohol and drug treatment and juvenile justice reform.
* Stay in touch with what's going on in the 23 communities using the proven Reclaiming Futures approach.
* Receive expert opinions and commentary from regular contributors who are leaders in the field...

Added to the blog roll.

April 15, 2009

DA: "someone must stand with the accused against the might of the state"

NPR turns its attention to us:

Report Calls Out Flaws In Public Defender System

And the block quote they run with on the web page is from a prosecutor?

“We're not there just to convict. Our job is to find justice. And I need a person standing with the defendant to help me do that.”

Public defenders: necessary if you want a side of justice with that conviction.

The report itself is, "Justice Denied: America's Continuing Neglect of Our Constitutional Right to Counsel."

April 11, 2009

ID: "while a person's clean and sober we should be helping them with options"

From the Times-News:

Program progression - Twin Falls County Jail tries treatment to ease crowding

A rare look at the Twin Falls County Jail and a new drug program that will be available for those serving time for drug crimes...

April 09, 2009

Context is everything

There are a number of ways to read this UPI headline:

Public defender chosen for porno teacher

Of course I picked the wrong one. My apologies to the former colleague I thought had been chosen to teach this.

April 08, 2009

Chicago after dark

From timesonline.co.uk:

Bob Dylan on Barack Obama, Ulysses Grant and American Civil War ghosts - Listen to an exclusive track from Bob Dylan's new album, and read his views on US politics and history, exclusively on Times Online

Bill Flanagan: In that song Chicago After Dark were you thinking about the new President?

Bob Dylan: Not really. It’s more about State Street and the wind off Lake Michigan and how sometimes we know people and we are no longer what we used to be to them. I was trying to go with some old time feeling that I had...

April 05, 2009

Greetings from Chicago

Law butcher for the world, city of Andrea Lyon's shoulders, my family and I are enjoying your company.

April 03, 2009

WA: chop chop

We made KIRO TV tonight, and not for a good reason:

Huge Impact Possible With Cuts To Thurston County Courts

Four public defenders who handle a total of more than a 1,000 cases a year are on the chopping block - the result will be a caseload increase for the remaining public defenders with potentially serious consequences.

"They're going to get overburdened, they're going to get stressed out and they're not going to give the kind of defense that they should give," said Sally Harrison, director of the Office of Assigned Counsel...

Video here.

That's it, I'm off to vacation (unpaid - thanks, budget cuts!)

April 02, 2009

Facebook face

This post from the blog "My day is better than yours" put me in mind of that great p.d. investigator and social network authority, Sancho Villa:

... and do you have a Facebook?

When our office takes a new case, we send our investigator out to the client to... collect the basic info to open up the case - name, address, auto insurance info, and oh yeah, if the client has a Facebook.

(It is worthwhile to point out that when I worked at the Public Defender's office at Juvenile Hall, knowing whether or not our clients there had a Myspace or a Facebook was valuable information to us. Just by looking at their pictures we would find out if our own clients were lying to us...)

Or to their p.o., or to their treatment provider, or to their drug court judge...

"'Bummer, dude' doesn't really cover it, does it?"

One of my colleagues made quite an impression on Fallout Kid:

The cat that runs the show for Juvenile Law is a nice enough guy... He talked about how he is a Washington State Juvenile Public Defender. He handles a huge f*cking caseload: 100 cases, sometimes 80... (F)or the private practice I work, I sometimes feel like I'm running my ass into the ground with about 60-70 active files. 100? F*ck, that's crazy...

I'll need to check my caseload stats in the morning.