Advantage Lawless: DOJ Takes Side of Public Defenders
The Eric Holder run Department of Justice keeps demonstrating that it is on the side of the lawless against the law abiding citizen. The Justice Department has taken the side of the ACLU in a case to help public defenders. State and local prosecutors take note:
But an unprecedented recent court filing from the Justice Department has cheered the typically overburdened attorneys who represent the poor and could have dramatic implications for the representation of indigent defendants.
"This is a breakthrough moment," Norman Reimer of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers told an audience earlier this month at the Law Library of Congress. "If you want to talk about something that could give us cause for optimism, this to me is the most optimistic development we have seen in years."
At just 17 pages, the filing doesn't seem like a milestone. But lawyers at the Justice Department say the decision to weigh in on a case about the quality of indigent defense in two cities north of Seattle is nothing short of historic.
"We are absolutely committed to the principle that every indigent person who is accused of a crime is entitled to his or her constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel," says Jocelyn Samuels, who leads the DOJ civil rights unit.
In other words, the United States Justice Department, the agency in charge of prosecuting criminals and the lawless, has taken the side of the lawless in an ACLU lawsuit alleging that criminals aren't receiving snazzy enough lawyers for their criminal defense.
Anyone who hasn't been paying attention to Eric Holder's radical ideological agenda better start. If you are a county prosecutor or attorney with a state attorney general, this affects you. If you live in a community racked by crime, this affects you. You can't just assume the immense power of the Civil Rights Division will have no impact on you.
"The ruling will influence what hundreds of cities and local governments do just in Washington state; whether it'll have the same impact outside of Washington isn't clear. But without a lot of federal guidance on this, I can't imagine it won't," he says.
That's why lots of people will be watching for the judge's decision, expected this fall.