Saturday, August 12, 2006

"The $40 Lawyer"

I admit that because of my recent experience as as juror and because Mrs. Meridian begins law school on Monday, this 3-part series on a public defender that appeared in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times holds more interest for me than it would for most people. But I found it so engagingly written that it's hard to imagine most people not wanting to find out what happens to this fellow. It's also something of a healthy reminder that what ultimately matters in an attorney is whether s/he's an advocate for the client, and that's something they can't learn how to be in law school.

It's a lengthy read, but definitely worth the time.


R. Sherman said...

You don't want to get me started on the abomination which is the Public Defender system. Let's see, pay half as much as prosecutors; unbelievable case loads; the bottom of law school classes thrown into court without adequate instruction or mentoring.

I get sick when I think about it.

The things I've observed would shock most people, but for the fact that, after all, these are just "criminals."

The problem is, unless and until the State says being a PD is worth the same as a prosecutor, the system will remain screwed up.

Good luck to Ms. M.


John B. said...

The article doesn't gloss over any of those criticisms. What is amazing, though, is that this fellow, poor quality legal material by any of the usual standards and by his own admission, nevertheless becomes about as effective an advocate for his clients as that screwed-up system will permit. And "becomes" is the correct word here--also by his own admission, he certainly wasn't trained at the U. of Miami to practice law in the way he had to learn to practice it. If he doesn't exactly overcome his adverse circumstances, he learns, through sheer force of will, to tread water.

But yes, Randall: none of what I just said mitigates in any way the shame that is the public defender system. I get the feeling, from the article itself, that its subject is the exception that proves the rule.