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

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Ignoring National Attention Begets Trickle-Down Effect

PrintBoth money and power have been proven to be devastating together and as they stand alone. Destructive in many areas or life quality. Think about it. After centuries of being told that money does not buy happiness, we actually have valid arguments to prove otherwise. 15 minutes of fame has been a steady trend for a couple of decades. Those in power make life-changing decisions and look where we are currently headed.

And while no one deserves to be violated, those who exploit the two are gaining ground to do so. We ignore it though. Money provides that power to do so and if the justice system told us anything, any indiscretion can be swept under the rug. Just check the world’s history.

It seems that we have no choice as an average middle class citizens to watch it happen and wait for it to hit home. And it’s getting ready to collide.

Of the many areas where money and power exploits both a circumstance and its outcomes, one has gotten a lot of media attention due to the delayed attention of human trafficking issue the world has: sex abuse.

It is said that there is a staggering 30.5% of women and 15% of menPrint experience sexual abuse at some point in their childhood. Most are violated by people they trust. With children, it’s easy to manipulate them into believing if they don’t fulfill this adult’s request, their lives’ will be affected. Make them understand the power of money, you have someone who is willing to make an authoritative figure happy as hell.

So we know it’s there, but why is it so rampant? While minorities seem to be slain over miscommunication, a trend of rich and powerful people have been getting away with sex abuse right in our faces with known children crying out for help. It’s hard to ignore the obvious.

Can I point out that this issue has been in our face the entire time?  It’s allowed because the people who we believe are to prevent it, are enabling it. Let’s take a look at the recent news. Millionaire financial advisor, Jeffrey Epstein was charged with allegedly engaging in sexual abuse with 40 minors.

This man was allowed to plead guilty to solicitation of underage girls serving 13 months and paying restitution. Current Labor Nominee and US Attorney Acosta was afraid of prosecuting him because of his powerful defense team even though he had growing evidence against the man. Have you ever heard of an attorney express fear of a public defender? Police Chief Michael Reiter expressed the fact that he got off easy. I’m sure he’s still enjoying life even with this bump on the road.

Things like this will continue to happen especially if we keep with the criminal justice system aligned to dis-proportionally and arguably illegally prosecute people on such a bias scale. While talented lawyers deserve to be paid for their time, the lack of ability to afford great work shouldn’t be life threatening as well the ability to afford to do so should not buy a get out of jail free card. Anyone convicted of raping their three year old daughter thought to rightfully go free? Then you should ask why an heir to DuPont was put on probation and not on a pitch fork to feed hungry lions. The power of money and the greed behind it, allows it.

PrintThen you have celebrities coming forward as childhood sex abuse survivors in one of the perfect situations to get away with it. Cliché Corey Haim was laid to unrest with extreme signs of the result of what we chose to ignore directly and indirectly: substance addiction, guilt, and other self-destructive behavior. He didn’t go peacefully in the night and he tried to point out the obvious. For every Corey Haim, think of all the unnamed children having their outcry’s masked as mere bad behavior.

Elijah Woods makes a claim that child actors are often preyed upon. The trafficking system is organized and protected. Common denominator if you haven’t seen a pattern: money. They can’t speak as loudly as people with power.

Corey Feldman, Corey Haim’s right hand man and the person who was persecuted for a recent performance corroborated his friend’s claim that he was abused. These children trusted these adults in power. These adults with money. Money that has proven to control outcomes in certain financial favor. Industries with money remained protected by power and those who are victimized remain silent because of their lack of control of ironically, their own money.

These people come out and express their reasons for being silent about their battered and senseless situation and they are disbelieved and called coward for not pressing head on in their cavalry. Ignoring that each step on the way down the rabbit hole of sex, money, and power. Ignoring that children are easily manipulated to believe anything adults say.

And when they throw money into the mix and feel that someone should risk their
livelihood when no one else would hear them cry. Forgetting that the same reason that the abuse was allowed to continue is the same reason why they can’t find peace in admittance.

And to wrap this conversation up in a spiky blanket. We watched Printcelebrities parade in front of us knowing what was going on behind the scenes accepting it because we couldn’t tell for sure. Financially powerful people have been brought up before our eyes and the accusations wind up somewhat normalizing it. So where does this leave our everyday people who are violated behind closed doors?