Thursday, May 1, 2014
Today is Law Day, a good time to take a look at our legal system and discuss what we can do to improve it.
A necessary reform would be to substantially increase funding for indigent defense.
Our adversary system cannot produce just results if adversaries are not evenly matched. Increasing public defense budgets is never popular with the voters. Public defenders are constantly adjusting to reduced budgets and increasing caseloads. Compensation paid to court appointed attorneys declines every year and for the past 10 years, it has not been sufficient to cover monthly overhead.
We must never forget that criminal defense lawyers are liberty’s last defender. When they represent their clients in a competent and professional manner, they force the police and the prosecution to do their jobs and keep them honest.
The long term decline in funding has compromised the adversary system by making it impossible to compete on equal footing with the prosecution and police.