Effective Counsel?

“Lefstein pointed out that “anyone who surveys the current delivery of criminal defense services for the poor has to be overwhelmed by the impediments that stand in the way of providing effective legal assistance… court-appointed lawyers were “usually ignorant of the facts,” made pre-trial motions and participated in hearings “only infrequently,” did not engage in forms of in-court practice other than seeking adjournments and entering guilty pleas, and “did not develop meaningful lawyer-client relationships, undertake independent factual or legal investigations, engage investigators or experts, or consult with the defendant’s family or friends.”

When we were assigned this reading The Hollow Hope, I found it very interesting especially this section. I do not have much knowledge about the legal system. However, when I attended my cousin’s trial in which he was being accused of first degree murder, I realized our legal system is in need of improvement. It has been about 10 years since he was found guilty and until this day I remember every detail of the case.

Every day that I sat in the same court room, I heard every joke that was being said by the judge and attorneys in regards to my cousin’s case. They did not care that his family was there. Does this show that they take their job seriously? Do they feel like they have a superior power that allows them to joke about cases? What happened to professionalism? Professionalism is extremely important; therefore, this should not be allowed.

As everyone else that cannot afford an attorney, my cousin was assigned a court-appointed attorney. Please forgive me for providing you with the wrong information. He had many court-appointed attorneys! Every other week he had a different public defender. Public defenders that did not have time to speak to us and that would walk in and out of the court room with stacks of files in their hands. How can a person receive effective counsel if he/she is not appointed one attorney that is willing to dedicate time to their case? How can court-appointed attorneys provide effective counsel if they are being over-worked? Do you think that is fair; furthermore, do you think this allows trials to be fair?

In my opinion, with no effective counsel there is no possibility of receiving a fair trial. Cases like these cause me to think and question, who else has experienced this? What can be done to change this?

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2 Responses to Effective Counsel?

  1. haleyschryver says:

    It’s really a sad situation for a lot of people. Public defenders are overworked that there’s no way for them to provide the best defense possible to their clients. People who can’t afford an attorney are being shortchanged but at least they have some form of defense, even if it isn’t the best. In civil trials, there are no state appointed lawyers. Even though there is no jail time at stake in a civil trial, it is still a problem that those who can’t afford it are provided no counsel at all.

  2. newbieblogster13 says:

    Well, it’s a hope that judges are suppose to be indifferent during trials and only pay attention to the facts as I have heard many stories where the prosecutor and judge are best buddies after hours. Even more discerning is that most judges used to be prosecutors so even though they are suppose to pay attention to facts only, they may already have a prosecuted mind set. There are many reason why the court system is flawed. Also, yes it is sad that your cousin couldn’t find a defense attorney that would or could stick by. I’m not sure how that works in that aspect as I would assume an attorney appointed one case would have to follow through with it even if they have other cases to pursue as well.

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