04 February 2004

More talk about how poor indigent representation is in Virginia.

We don't get paid enough, take too many cases, don't put enough work into our cases, and cannot get proper expert support. The offered solution? "[A]n oversight commission for indigent defense that would establish standards for training, experience and caseloads." Translation: A group of people with agendas who will try to set unrealistic requirements.

Look, if you want to fix the system there are three changes which would fix most current problems. First, increase the fee cap by at least 100%. Second, make the prosecution give the Defense attorney the police report. Third, make the prosecution give the Defense counsel an exact xerox copy of his client's record. This would allow Defense counsel (1) to take fewer cases and still be able to pay his bills, (2) to size up the case quickly and better advise his client, and (3) to be able to make an accurate assessment of what the sentencing guidelines range might be (it's amazing but 90% of clients cannot tell you what is on their records). This would make the system work far better than it does currently.

Much to their credit, many prosecutors already do the second and third steps but some jurisdictions continue to play games. Why? Because they can.

Link via SW Virginia Law Blog.

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