Not All Prosecutors Sympathetic to Public Advocate Plans to Curtail Services

May 29, 2008 

(The following opinions are those of some prosecutors, and they do not necessarily express an opinion by LawReader.  We welcome informational reports from all parties to this or other legal issues.) 

LawReader received the following comment from a County Attorney who quotes other prosecutors.    

“I know we got a 3% cut across the board.  I think that generally too many people are appointed a public defender and this adds a strain on them but it is over done out of convenience.
 
Here are some of the prosecutor’s responses to the DPA news story about plans to curtail representation of misdemeanants, conflict cases,  and for competency hearings:
 
“We had a full blown hearing a couple of weeks ago about whether a guy deserved a public defender who lives in a $400,000 house with 90% of it mortgaged, and a house payment of about $3,000.  He claims that he is self-employed and not doing very well, but he drove a leased BMW into the lot, and his wife works for Proctor & Gamble in a fairly high up position.  Decision?  He’s entitled to a public defender.
Perhaps Mr. Lewis’ ultimatum will motivate the entire system to look at DPA’s constitutional role, how far they have exceeded it and how liberally public defenders are assigned.  Like Clint, on a daily basis I see defendant’s who are not even close to being indigent appointed a public defender.  It happens many times each day in every court in the state. 

DPA doesn’t need more money, they need to be restricted to their constitutional responsibility.  A glaring example of their exceeding their role, at great expense, is their recent foray into hiring social workers.  I defy anyone to explain to me how social work falls within DPA’s sphere of responsibility.

I think prosecutors as a whole need to be taking part in this discussion.  I know we have to be careful about attacking DPA because they are the darling of many people we must depend on for support, but I do think we can portray ourselves positively by pointing out that we suffered devastating cuts as well, but unlike DPA we will not abandon our post.(emphasis added)”
 

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