14 September 2004

Indigent Denial

[In Virginia there is a pretrial hearing to make sure the Defendant knows what he is charged with, what he is going to do for an attorney (and if he is eligible for a court appointed attorney), and to set bond.]

Virginia Pretrial hearing . . .

Pretrial investigator: Your Honor, Mr. Smith was out on bond for distribution of cocaine when he was arrested for this charge of distributing cocaine. There is a presumption against the setting of a bond.

Judge: Okay, no bond. Mr. Smith, you're asking for a court appointed attorney?

Smith: Yes sir.

Judge: How long's it been since you've had a job?

Smith: 3 years.

Judge: How have you been supporting yourself for the last three years?

[comment] At this point everyone in the room looks around out at each other. We're all pretty sure how this guy's been supporting himself.

Smith: ~pause~ I've been living with my girlfriend . . .

Judge: I find that you are not indigent. You have not sought employment for the last three years. This is a choice. You are not trying to support yourself; you are not indigent. You do not get court appointed counsel.

[comment] Never seen that happen before.


Melissa said...


okay that is horrible. Surely that can be appealed but oh holy moly.

Eli said...

Yeah, that's terrifying.