donate or subscribe
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

Public defender meltdown in Louisiana

March 3, 2016

by Bill Quigley

Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the country, no longer provides public defenders to all its people accused of crimes; within months, over half its public defender offices are expected to become insolvent.

This photo of the New Orleans public defender’s office illustrates a Jan. 15, 2016, New York Times story headlined “New Orleans Puts Poor on ‘Waiting List’ for Lawyers, Suit Alleges.” – Photo: Lee Celano, New York Times

This photo of the New Orleans public defender’s office illustrates a Jan. 15, 2016, New York Times story headlined “New Orleans Puts Poor on ‘Waiting List’ for Lawyers, Suit Alleges.” – Photo: Lee Celano, New York Times

“It’s a nightmare,” according to James Dixon, the chief Louisiana Public Defender. “You have people in jail that don’t have lawyers. It’s that basic.” In Louisiana, public defenders are appointed to represent nearly 250,000 people each year.

Dixon has been warning of a constitutional crisis for years due to inadequate funding. His office has recently been sued in a federal class action by the ACLU.

The state public defender indicated that 24 of the 42 local public defender offices will become insolvent and restrict services in the next few months. Many already have broken down. Public defenders in 13 of Louisiana’s 42 judicial districts are already restricting services.

For example, the Lafayette Parish public defender has laid off 35 of its 52 attorneys and imposed salary cuts of 20 percent on those who remain. The constitutional guarantee of speedy trial is gone and death penalty cases are grinding to a halt.

The remaining public defenders face caseloads of 1,000 felonies a year, a rate more than five times as high as a recent Texas legislature-mandated caseload study, which concluded that public defenders should represent no more than 175 felonies a year.

Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the country, no longer provides public defenders to all its people accused of crimes.

New Orleans public defenders have been refusing to represent the most serious cases since January. The highly respected Marshall Project reports their budget has been cut from $9.5 million to $6 million in the past four years.

That office, which represents 85 percent of those charged in criminal court, has already laid off lawyers and cannot replace the many lawyers who have resigned because of a hiring freeze. The office handles 10,000 misdemeanors and 8,000 felonies a year.

One public defender wrote in the Washington Post that brand new lawyers have to handle cases with life sentences, carry double the number of cases that the American Bar Association recommends, do not have the time to even see their clients and are forced to plead people out to felony convictions on the day they meet them.

New Orleans public defenders have been refusing to represent the most serious cases since January.

In an op-ed in the New York Times, the head of the Orleans Public Defender explained that Louisiana funds two-thirds of its public defender system with fines and fees from people convicted of traffic offenses and crimes.

Budgets for public defenders were small to begin with. In New Orleans, the budget of the public defender is less than half that of the prosecutor. The state spends somewhere around $3.5 billion on police, prosecutors, courts and jails, versus less than 2 percent of that on public defenders.

Cardozo Law Professor Ellen Yaroshefsky told a New Orleans court that the New Orleans public defender’s office was being run in an unethical manner. “I’m very troubled by the situation this public defender’s office is in,” Yaroshefsky testified.

“To call this a ‘justice system’ is really a misnomer. … I believe this entire office is operating as a conflict of interest. The lawyers here are compromising some clients in order to represent others. They make a decision to triage, and triage is a conflict of interest. This is a problem now that is a judicial problem, and I believe needs to be dealt with on that level.”

The meltdown of the Louisiana public defender system makes it criminal to call it a justice system.

Meanwhile, Louisiana is facing a huge overall budget deficit of nearly a billion this year and double that next year due to fiscal problems left by departing Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The meltdown of the Louisiana public defender system makes it criminal to call it a justice system.

Bill Quigley is a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans and associate legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights. Email him at Quigley@loyno.edu.

11 thoughts on “Public defender meltdown in Louisiana

  1. nice

    Every your body naturally manufactures the growth hormone in all the pituitary gland. It is responsible for the regeneration and additionally cell emergence. Without GH heel bone density and additionally increasing mass is very unlikely.health through indulgence

    Reply
  2. nice

    Selecting a policy from the various possibilities is fairly subjective. Within India after that, for 12 million people there can't be 12 million policies. One must realize that the provides the policymakers make within the insurance policies for the car or every other policy are very pre investigated areas.active insurance advisors

    Reply
  3. nice

    These days almost, every consumers get shift within the SMS that will Whatapps, which can be due to unlimited stroke, and make it easy for sharing any photos that will national that will international. Within the same, one can find number for way that your children get hold of misuse utilizing closed one within the teen years.softwareclip

    Reply
  4. nice

    At present almost, every many people get shift belonging to the SMS to help you Whatapps, which can be caused by unlimited massage therapies, and help sharing that photos to help you national to help you international. Around the same, you can get number in way the fact that the children secure misuse through closed one around the teen grow old.digtechnology

    Reply
  5. nice

    Nowadays almost, every families get shift out of your SMS towards Whatapps, which a consequence of unlimited caress, and provide sharing typically the photos towards national towards international. From the same, there can be number from way that children pick up misuse with the help of closed one from the teen period.teens4technology

    Reply
  6. nice

    At this time almost, every most people get shift from SMS to make sure you Whatapps, which as a result unlimited knead, and grant sharing all the photos to make sure you national to make sure you international. Inside the same, there is number about way of the fact that children become misuse by means of closed one inside the teen their age.communitechdatabase

    Reply
  7. nice

    Now almost, every people get shift from the SMS to Whatapps, which is due to unlimited massage, and allow sharing the photos to national to international. At the same, there are number of way that the children get misuse with closed one at the teen age.securtech

    Reply
  8. asd

    With the growth of the internet, the ease and availability of ordering surfing products and buying surfboards of all types online has become an acceptable way to shop and purchase a new board. However, buying a surfboard at your local surf shop may be preferable because you can touch it, pick it up and feel it, and talk to a sales representative face to face.shoppingadvice.us
    The stores these days have so many ideas for beach house decorating in them that you don't know where to start. Make your design your own and these guidelines will help you on your journey to a one of a kind perfect style made just for you.housedecor.us
    Spring Break is upon us and so is the great opportunity to do a Grand Canyon helicopter or airplane tour. But don't delay when it comes to booking your flight. These trips sell out and sell out fast. Learn more. Read this article.luxurytour.us
    Fashion industry attracts many young people nowadays not only because it is a rather new profession, but also it is supposed to realize person's likes in the field of fashion. Besides, it is quite a high-paid profession today. When a young person decides to connect his or her activity with the fashion industry nothing comes to mind except one its aspect – fashion design.fashionicon.us
    As Health Reform continues to unfold, the pace of change is picking up speed, as new models of reimbursement, care delivery and access are taking shape. These shifts on the provider side should represent good news for millions of Americans that need better support from the healthcare system, especially since many of those with chronic disease aren't currently getting recommended care.healthyday.us
    The 11 Forgotten Laws by Bob Proctor and Mary Morrissey is a very popular digital product today. In this 11 Forgotten Laws review we will take a look at this product and see what are the pros and cons of it. Before the review itself we will also understand what are The 11 Laws.lawadvice.us
    Choosing a window tint shop can be confusing. "Best Price" "No Bubbles" "20 Years in Business"… How do you know which shop to choose? There are major differences between tint shops and you don't want to make a bad investment.shoppingblog.us
    If you are an investor looking to invest in a commercial real estate property, without a doubt, you want to make sure that brings you a profit and offers value to your tenants. Prospective tenants will be attracted to your commercial location if you can ensure their safety and security.housedevelopment.us
    If you're not ready to get into a fierce (and most likely, neverending) debate about the difference between a traveler and a tourist, then you just need to follow one rule: Never mention the word "tours." Somehow, tours has become a taboo in travel. "Real" travelers will tell you that joining a group tour is not a "real" way to travel.grouptour.us
    This article is aimed at informing bloggers about the right approach for creating a fashion blog. Fashion is a topic about which almost everybody claims to have knowledge. Still, mistakes committed almost unknowingly become hindrances in the way of a successful engaging fashion blog.fashionkeeper.us

    Reply
  9. asd

    What is the biopsychosocial nature of health? In this article, you will learn about the three major components that constitute the biopsychosocial nature of health.tophealth.us
    Law and legal activities are categorized into two wide areas. Most people do not understand the differences, but the 2 are quite distinct in explanation. Criminal law and civil law are 2 separate and broad entities of law that administer separate sets of the law and punishment.lawcafe.us
    A shopping mall is a building or several buildings that form a shopping complex. In this shopping complex, there are several merchandisers represented, with interconnecting walk ways that allow the mall visitors to move from one shopping unit to the other easily.shoppingguru.us
    Learning how to use keywords in your page titles can contribute a great deal towards improving your website search engine ranking. As a home business owner, encouraging the search engines to send you targeted traffic consistently should be your number one priority.improveyourhomes.us
    Why invest in travel insurance? Travel insurance is the backbone of your travel plan as you can not only be at peace but also can ask for compensation in case of any uncertain event occuring during your vacation. There are many benefits of investing in a suitable travel coverage plan.drtravel.us
    Fashion week is a week-long event that is held to commemorate the fashion industry and the cogs that keep the wheel moving. Fashion designers, brands and houses display the latest and best of their collection via runway shows.fashionsaint.us
    In order for any business to be successful, you must put ethics first and foremost. This means staying with what really works and staying away from what doesn't work. This isn't as easy as it seams as you will see from the article. However, it can be achieved.anybusiness.us
    Of all the universal laws, the law of attraction is both the most fascinating and the most misunderstood. But in order to really understand the law of attraction, you first need to understand another of the universal laws, the law of vibration.lawcareer.us
    Online shopping offers innumerable advantages one of which is to get access to a number of profitable deals on different items. Coupon codes, bargain shopping, comparing prices are some of the most preferred options for getting hold of what you need at low price.shoppingnow.us
    Everyone wants their homes to look good – specifically the interiors of their homes. There is always something to be desired in the way that the interior of our places appear, but the one thing that prevents us from getting the desired look is lack of money. Home improvement costs money, even more so when the goal is for it to look good.luxuryhomeimprovement.us

    Reply
  10. asd

    Wondering what prom hair style will suit you? Get professional advice on choosing a prom hair style to complete your look and make it memorable.stylekeeper.us
    How Your Firm Can Qualify And Access P O Trade finance;Information on how Canadian business owners and financial managers can access purchase order financing. How P O Finance works in the Canadian trade finance arena.localfinance.us
    Many gamers who have invested hours in World of Warcraft's MMORPG have blown away the competition by using a simple tool that is incorporated into the game itself. In this article I'll explain why you'll want to get a leveling guide and follow the procedures they layout for you. If you are playing as a character if the Horde, you'll need a Horde leveling guide.legalguide.us
    It is important that you have a creative impulse when you are thinking about making home improvements. Even if you do not think of yourself as a creative person, you can consult design resources and look at other homes to develop your creative side.homeimprovementguide.us
    There are many personal reasons that web visitors are returning to independent and personal travel agents, however, two reasons, are fairly common and can be found in major forums, blogs and message boards. The number one reason travelers are returning to travel agents is because of the horrify stories that are found online.toptravelers.us
    Understanding behavioral and communication styles can help business to grow. Recognizing styles can increase productivity through more sales, and a more collaborative workforce. DiSC model and examples are provided to show how this works.styleblog.us
    A businessman has to shift his business to some one else either by his choice or due to life changes. A wise business man, therefore, plans carefully before transitioning out of his business.gobusiness.us
    By living in harmony with the Universal Laws, you will attract, manifest, all the people, opportunities that you need to live the life you want. We are living in a world of abundance, there will always be more than enough for everybody. So start receiving yours today. And yes it can all start that quickly if you want to make the change. The choice has always been yours.lawtoday.us
    Home security is becoming a bigger issue today than ever. Part of the reason for this is homeowners make their homes such easy targets. According to national authorities, nearly 90% of all burglaries can be avoided and close to 40% of them occur through unlocked doors and windows.besthomeimprovement.us
    If you have business travel to London, you need to read this article. In this article you will discover why the London riots created a greater business travel threat than a terrorist attack. We will examine the threat posed by the London riots and demonstrations, terrorist attacks and resulting travel delays, disruptions and changes.travel101.us

    Reply

Leave a Reply

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements