Friday, January 20, 2017

Conservatives Love the Constitution - Except When It Does Things Like Provide Justice for Low Income People

Then It's 'What Constitution?'

The Constitution is ambiguous about a lot things.  But one thing it is not ambiguous about at all is the right to an attorney when charged with a crime.  It does not say the right is contingent on being able to afford an attorney, it is an unconditional right to be represented by counsel when one is accused.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

What part of that do the people like gun nuts who know every word of the 2nd amendment not understand?

So the right to an attorney in a criminal prosecution is every bit as strong a right as the right to carry a murderous assault weapon.  Except of course, if a state does not want to spend the money to povide an attorney.  New Mexico is one such state.

Image result for images of convicts behind bars
What happens when innocent people do not get attorneys

When Defendants Cannot Afford a Lawyer, and Neither Can New Mexico

"The number of felony cases in Hobbs had almost doubled since 2011, rising through the oil boom and bust even as the number of public defenders dropped by one-third in only three months.

In October, Mr. Baur ordered his lawyers here, who on average were representing 200 defendants each, to stop taking any new cases. It was a desperate and unprecedented step in this state, which triggered a nasty legal fight that has roiled this town of 43,000 for months.

“We have to turn off the spigot,” Mr. Baur said. “It is unconstitutional, inefficient and, frankly, not fair to represent more people if we can’t give them a functioning attorney.”

That's right, the public defender cannot give representation even when they do give representation.

Poor defendants almost always make a first court appearance on their own, without a lawyer present to interpret the charges against them. Routinely, they meet the public defenders assigned to represent them only moments before they are supposed to negotiate critical decisions, such as a plea deal or the conditions for their release.

Public defenders contend that they are unable to properly prepare for hearings, thoroughly interview witnesses, evaluate the evidence against their clients or file the correct motions because they are stretched way too thin.

Anyone expecting those Constitution loving conservatives to be outraged and horrified?  Anyone?

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