Need A Lawyer? Better Have

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I admire lawyers. But even with my admiration, I cannot ignore a lawyer’s capability to end someone’s life due to loopholes or lack of money. It has been obvious that a guilty verdict while not based solely on it, includes money having a damn good impact on a jury’s decision. People with unfortunate finances are forced to have their choices served from the bottom of the barrel. And that’s not to insult public defenders. They are one of America’s underappreciated and underpaid experts dealing with lives who already had the odds laid out against them. But in the end, that doesn’t matter.

So tell me, which would you rather have: a Public Defender or a private sector Criminal Defense Attorney?

Of course in order to be a lawyer the basic degrees and exams must be completed. But once the bar has been passed, paths tend to differ. General requirements for public defenders are usually entry level asking for internship experience working co-counsel in multiple jury trials. When deciding to go to a private criminal attorney office, not only do they prefer people who already have those qualifications, many ask for completed education such as Juris Doctor, specialized experience. Some also require steady prosecuting experience. Moreover, many junior associates must have their Master of Law, an advanced law certification that has global credibility for career advancement.

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When it comes to workload, most lawyers have their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, when it comes to being a public defender, the demands have become outrageous. They have always had heavy caseloads with it increasing since 2011. An example would be issues in Los Angeles where they are only capable of handling 21% of the annual workload in compliance. Where does that leaves those in need of public defenders? Their lives are put in jeopardy due to professional responsibility. Multiple caseload studies that have been done in the recent years are saying the same thing. Workload deficiencies questions the equality in justice under the law. Hundreds of defendants wait in jail without representation. Look what happened to Kalief Browder.

This wouldn’t be that big of an issue if lawyers wanted to stay public defenders…but they don’t.

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And why should public defenders stay where they are? In 2015, places like Massachusetts had some of their public defenders unable to make a living wage.  We put people in those circumstances in charge of someone’s life. All over the country, the position of public defenders has had a high turnover rates for generations. Would you stay around if you were overworked and underpaid?

Private criminal attorneys, while their goals are the same, are able to approach their cases much differently. If they began to have a caseload that becomes overbearing, their clients can choose to go somewhere else instead of wait. It’s their money. On the other side, lawyers have every right to reject cases if they feel they cannot give 100% to their clients. It’s pretty convenient for all those involved.

Money is always an incentive.

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As for attorney resources, you can be sure that money will be involved. We cannot ignore those who do pro-bono work, but expertise, research, and advice do cost money. In fact, many districts across the country are suing their government due to lack of funding. Missouri claims that their public defenders only get an average of $356 per case in funding. Now I know that most people have seen some sort of investigative show and knows that a detailed case would need a little more funding than that. Additionally, who’s investigating the cases? Someone needs to be out there verifying information. That person would also like to get paid. But without funding, what happens? I know.  An example would be in New Orleans. They have eight investigators for 21,000 cases per year.

The salary between public defenders and criminal attorneys is astonishing but not because there are low quality expectations, rather experience issues. Public defenders have an average of $54k salary. There is a possibility to make 6 figures, but don’t expect it. They work for non-profit so the only real bonus is actually acquitting someone innocent. The private sector has a lot more opportunity for higher salary. They average $78k salary with more room for advancement. Of course, the fact that committing crimes is popular, and if you have money you have more options, the private sector is pretty competitive and a defense attorney could find themselves making about $160k per year.

And lets be honest. Who do public defenders defend? While private sector defense attorneys get to help those upper middle and high class people with steady incomes and trust funds, public defenders get to try to resolve the issues of the impoverished and the mentally unstable. Funny, we are finding that those are the ones that suffer from so much injustices.

So while there are reasons for the differences between public defenders and private sector defense attorneys, those who are affected by it have nothing to do with it. Yet their lives depend on whether or not they can afford all the amenities that comes with being able to pay for a defense. When will we look at the system dead at its core and say ‘man this shit if fucked up?’

Resources:

https://www.lsac.org/llm/degree/jd-llm-difference

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/missouri/articles/2017-03-09/aclu-others-sue-missouri-over-public-defender-system

http://study.com/articles/Become_a_Public_Defender_Education_and_Career_Roadmap.html

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/paying-private-criminal-defense-attorney.html

Reasonable Death

It’s no secret that innocent people have died under the eyes of justice. For generations, it was a running joke. Now, although we want to assume that we are now assuring everyone is innocent until proven guilty, innocent felons are closing their eyes for the final time due to legal justice. And this does not include the climbing popularity of street justice.

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The big issue is not the fact that innocent people are still dying, but that the reasons dating back decades are still the same: misinformation from people who just want the case closed. This reason alone should push for a justice revamp. Instead, we are here in 2017 reminding the world that people are still dying for no reason.

We praise lawyers for helping criminals get away with crime yet so much doubt could still get people killed.

Leo Jones

Accused of killing a police officer, Jones proclaimed his innocence until the voltage spread through his body. He declared his confession was coerced by an officer who was later proven to be the guy he was accused of. After recanting his confession and many witnesses implicating someone else, a last minute pardon was ignored.

While his innocence was never actually proven, the fact that there was so much doubt cast on his guilt, the thought of a possible innocent man after MANY people coming forward saying ‘hey, I lied’ and ‘hey, no you got the wrong guy’ still dying should send chills. Reasonable doubt is supposed to prevent jail time. Confirmation of misinformation should avert death.

Leo Jones

Like many average Americans, Frank Lee Smith’s life was cut short due an unfair battle with Cancer. It would suck to know that being wrongfully convicted of rape and murder persisted his condition. He was exonerated December, 2000 after being originally convicted in the mid-80s.

Understandably, DNA testing was not popular back then, but Smith seemed to be convicted on wonky eyewitness testimony anyway. It was stated throughout the process that the testimony didn’t always seem trustworthy, sometimes generic. Later it was recanted. Police officers admitted to lying.

A man suffered until death because people were in a hurry close a case. Other suspects who had an opportunity to commit the crime were not pursued. Terrible line-up process. But what makes it all worse is that through this long and drawn-out process, there were many chances to rectify the many errors and still, an innocent man wasted away while waiting for mistakes to be admitted.

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This alleged cop killer had an eclipse of doubt cast over his case before Troy Davis died. Though his conviction has yet to be overturned, so many holes were being poked in his case, ROR should have been recommended. Why is it so shocking to hear that maybe police might be pressuring and coercing in order to finish the job? It wouldn’t be the first time. Witnesses have started recanting their testimonies. He’s still dead.

What more needs to be done before people start saying ‘maybe we’re wrong.’

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Even after no physical evidence being linked to the murder, Brian Terrell of Georgia was murdered by lethal injection anyway. Further that, the physical evidence that they did find contradicted indicting the man. Again, witnesses recanted testimonies quoting all types of selfishness.

These cases always make me sad. Evidence of prosecution coercion was proven a few times throughout the attempts to prove Brian’s innocence. People are not asking to just let everyone go, but when did reasonable doubt become reasonable death?

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Poor Gary Graham, executed 2000 after pleading his innocence for almost 20 years. It seems with this one, trying was a bonus. He was convicted on a quick witness testimony. This was after two other witnesses contradicted the first one. After all of this came out, the people who sentenced to death had the opportunity to hypothetically change their minds…sad the man’s still dead.

Ledell Lee

Right before I was going to conclude this piece, I came across Ledell Lee, a mentally handicapped man who was recently executed for a murder that it seems like he may not have committed. In saying that, the fact that again there was so much doubt cast on the case, the man still died.

Again, not only were there contradictions to the physical evidence, including it not matching him, there was evidence of judge and lawyer affairs and witness contradictions. His defense team didn’t even seem to care. Someone who is facing death, should not have to beg for DNA testing, especially since DNA has exonerated so many people. If the death penalty is only to prevent felons from committing crimes again, I think we should be all for clearing people!

I want to wrap this up with the familiar story of Emmett Till, the young man who was murdered for a lie. His murderers, who were heard bragging about what they committed were eventually acquitted. Just recently, the woman who started the chain of events admitted to her lie. Something people already knew to be true had finally been proven.

Although it is not surprising that cases like Emmett Till were just thrown away back then, it’s hard not to think about when we have:

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Even if they make it pass street justice, many people wait for other people’s bad decisions to put them to death.

I’ve been binging on Unsolved Mysteries lately and am upset that many of the cases have not been solved. I’m even more upset that many of the terrible cases that were solved, have felons who are today released.

But we still have this issue…

Sources:

Death Penalty Information

Frontline

Justice Really Isn’t Fair

It’s unfortunate to know that because of Annie Dookhan’s lack of morals, many criminals have lucked out and will be getting away with their crimes. My home state makes up a DMV fine that follows me out of the area, but we have possible clean slates on murder. But once you get pass that, you realize all of those innocent victims of the justice system may have a chance at a normal life now that the injustice has been revealed.

Aside from Dookhan’s criminal acts of judicial violations, a broader injustice is gaining momentum. Of course surprised was not the feeling that shot up my spin when I learned that dozens of people were being exonerated based on new evidence with thousands of other wrongfully accused following suit.

Thank you science for that! Can’t shun a revolutionary process based on one person’s selfish decisions. Not only has it given us endless shows to be entertained with, it has proven beyond a reasonable doubt many times whether a suspect is guilty or innocent. It’s something that those innocent felons in their final moments would’ve never taken for granted.

But there is something that scientific evidence may not always win against and that’s someone who doesn’t want to lose. As humans, it’s easy for us to become narrow-minded in a blink of an eye and although experience is supposed to wean out those who do not fit the title, we are seeing now that this may not be the result. May not have even been the intention by those in charge. That one thing trickles down to many other factors.

It may not be something that is announced regularly, but people are not always prosecuted based on the fact that they committed the crime, rather whether or not the state can win the case. Of course in their defense, the decision not to pursue in the present time takes away the chance of double jeopardy later. But what about those who just like to win?

In lookingPardon Quote1 at our history, a common factor in many exonerating  victims was the prosecution’s decision to massage the case not for proof, but for point and to be known with a high win rate in circles can be compelling.

While competitive behavior works well at pushing lawyers to do their very best to win, it may ignore the push for justice. Throughout history, we have seen prosecutions purposefully hide and deny things if it didn’t fit in their case jigsaw puzzles and those injustices led to many people wrongfully incarcerated. Moreover, it has also been seen that once something is proven otherwise, it’s hard for people to admit fault or defeat.

False or inaccurate eyewitnesses are also a way to open the odds of locking up
someone innocent. Although science has increasingly pokedPardon Quote2 holes in their testimonies, they are still wildly depended on. They have been proven to be sometimes unreliable, coerced, and bartered to felons. When you combine that with someone who wants to win, you may have a problem. More importantly, and something that must always remain a key factor: the less money a defendant can provide, the less decisions fall in their favor. When taking into account the innocent victims being bombarded in the system, wouldn’t someone be nervous if they “fit the description?”

There are many more reasons why innocent people go to jail and the proof is in the continuation of exonerating prison victims. This section of my page is to highlight the many injustices of systems while showing the necessity of some to feel the need to run. We have science now ready to prove an allegation right or wrong. What we don’t have is a system ready to accept fact over someone’s ability to win.Pardon Quote1 Horizontal1

Source: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/4900