25 November 2009
Busy morning in Judge Mott's courtroom. Court service day. Jail was late which is not unusual. I had one client who couldn't get through a guilty plea, but finally; and when he learns judge Mott will put him in jail asked for time for sentencing and now wants to withdraw it and go to trial. Of course, he was pleading to a simple misdemeanor but will go to trial on an aggravated misdemeanor. One client didn't appear and I reset the pretrial conference for 2 December to find that he was sitting in the hall the entire time. He called later and said he wasn't sure which attorney was his although we have spoken at the court house at least twice. I told him it was okay, because I didn't recognize him either.
24 November 2009
A non-court day. They are more frequent with the Public Defender's Office taking over the felony docket in Jasper County. The judge's are required to appoint the Public Defender. Where the Public Defender's Office gives notice to the local clerk of the cases that must be given to them, the judges are required to do so. The judges have no discretion in whom they appoint to a case. It does not matter if the Public Defender's have more to do than they can reasonably do well. It does not matter if an attorney has represented a client all the client's life in all his difficulties, his wishes are irrelevant. The Public Defender's lobbying efforts have convinced the legislature that they are cheaper than private, contract attorneys. They may or may not be, but I do not believe that has been established with any veracity. For instance, attorney fees are ordered paid by the defendant if the defendant pleads or is found guilty. That money goes into the State's general fund, not returned to the public defender's office. There are other factors that do not appear to be factored into the equation. For instance, is it cheaper to plead a defendant guilty to a some charge, lessor or not, rather than try the case and win some of them. Every guilty defendant has subsequent costs that a defendant found not guilty does not incur. There are probation costs, incarceration costs, counseling costs, medication costs, treatment costs. There very well could be others that do not come to mind at the moment. The criminalization of the people is a costly affair.
23 November 2009
Nice day to spend visiting one place of incarceration or another. First, the Jasper County Jail to make a first visit with a client. Sad case wants out but no place to go. No job. Not much point in asking Judge Mott to reduce his bond. Then to the Newton Prison to visit. Only one in the waiting room when I arrived. Still had to wait. Must make you wait as a matter of policy while people wander in an out rather frequently. Can't yet understand the invisible ink stamp on the hand as if they don't recognized me when I come back through. Everything connected with the court house, jail, and prison rather quiet--all must be gearing up for the holidays.