Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Do public defenders defend?

Recently I've heard scary stories about public defenders (PD) that cause me to wonder whether they really make an effort to defend their clients.

In one case, the PD wouldn't discuss the client's defense before court. It was like he was just going to wing it in court. And then, without his client's knowledge and with almost no contact with the client, the PD asked the judge to order a mental health evaluation of his client, claiming that he felt his client was unfit to stand trial and not able to participate in preparation of the defense.

He did not discuss this with his client and did not tell the client to be in court on the day when his motion for the evaluation was to be decided by the judge. The judge ordered the evaluation by a court-appointed psychologist.

What the first PD didn't know (and therefore couldn't tell the judge) was that his client had filed a complaint about five years previously against that very psychologist and the State had investigated and upheld the complaint. Now, what judge would let the same psychologist evaluate the same person at this time? No judge would!

Enter a replacement public defender. In my book the second PD should have vigorously argued for the Court to rescind the order for the evalution. Instead, it appears he is asking only for a different psychologist.

Now, we aren't talking about a murder trial here. We're talking misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

In another case, a PD told the client to plead guilty to assault, and the client refused. While perhaps the client should have argued for a trial, he did agree to plead guilty to disorderly conduct. The judge accepted that and fined him $50.00.

Had the PD vigorously defended the client and gone to trial, he might even have been found Not Guilty, because it appears that the police reports are not truthful. More about this in a future story.


Laurie said...

Strange how both PD's thought she needed an eval, isn't it? Gus, you are judged by the company you keep. If you keep hanging out with her people might get the wrong idea. They might think she is really nuts!

The usual garbage posted by Gus...take the word of the defendant and assume that everyone else is lying. That should serve you well in your bid for Sheriff!

Gus said...

Laurie, the second PD didn't think the client needed an evaluation, but he apparently was unwilling to attack the basis of the first PD in front of the judge. That would have involved slamming the first PD - not a popular option for attorneys who see each other every day, even if it is what is needed to defend his client properly. Of course, this is just my opinion. (I'll say it before you do.)

If the judge knew that the first PD had no basis, in fact, for his recommendation, do you think the judge would be more outraged than just for being sandbagged about the first psychologist recommendation?

Frank said...

I'm in total agreement with you that people deserve fair representation when they have their day in court.
But didn't you mention that the defendant file a claim agianst the same psychologist five years ago? That would mean at least two PD's at two seperate times felt that the person needed to be evaluated. So in agreement with the post above, do you think it is possible it is the defendant and not the attorney?
You wrote, "Had the PD vigorously defended the client and gone to trial, he might even have been found Not Guilty, because it appears that the police reports are not truthful." Now please explain how the police reports are not truthful?! Are you again taking the word of the suspect/offender/defendant as gospil again?

Gus said...

Frank, good questions. I don't know the circumstances that led to the complaint that was upheld five years ago. I understand that the judge was more than perturbed to learn that he had ordered the evaluation with the same psychologist against whom the party's previous complaint was upheld.

In the other matter, I know more about it than I have written. If it had happened as reportedly written up, any charges would have been more serious, medical attention would have been mandatory, and the plea bargain probably would not have flown.

Now that the case had been adjudicated, I'll FOIA the police reports.