Plan to Cut Back Public Defenders Stirs Worry in GeorgiaBy BRENDA GOODMANATLANTA — The chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court on Monday sharply criticized a state plan to lay off a large group of public defenders, saying it could cause a legal crisis.On Friday, the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, which administers Georgia’s defender system, announced it would close the Metro Conflict Defender Office, one of four such offices in Georgia that handle cases in which it would be a conflict of interest for the local public defender’s office to represent more than one client charged with the same crime. The issue arises when, for example, two defendants in the same bank robbery turn on each other after they are arrested.Council officials say eliminating the office is necessary in a year when the state Legislature did not allot enough money for the defense of the indigent in Georgia. The office employed 21 people, including 17 lawyers.The cuts, which are to take effect June 30, will effectively eliminate all conflict defenders for clients in superior and juvenile courts in metropolitan Atlanta. They now represent 1,850 defendants.On Monday, the county’s chief judge, Doris L. Downs, called the layoffs “irresponsible.”The decision has sent court officials and prosecutors scrambling to come up with alternative plans.“We’re trying a case that involves nine gang members,” said Paul L. Howard Jr., the district attorney for Fulton County. “How could you expect the Public Defender to handle more than one or two of these defendants?”In conflict cases, a separate defense lawyer is required by codes of professional conduct and by legal precedents upheld by the Supreme Court, said Bruce Green, professor of law at Fordham University.Asked how his office might cope in the absence of conflict defenders, Mr. Howard, with a hint of weary sarcasm, said, “We’re hoping, in the future, that if people are going to commit crimes in Fulton County, they’ll do it singly.”The state Legislature appropriated $5.4 million for conflict defenders for the coming fiscal year, a reduction from the $9 million appropriated for this year.The state defenders council has not yet offered a plan for handling the cases. Robert Crawford, the council’s director, did not return calls for comment.Vernon S. Pitts, the public defender for Fulton County, said council officials had considered offering the county $800,000, or $400 a case, to pay private lawyers to handle its conflict cases. It is not clear whether that is enough money.In 2003, the indigent defense system in Georgia, a piecemeal system of county programs that had been ranked among the worst in the United States, was overhauled to provide statewide oversight and financing. The changes were intended to eliminate practices like contracting defense cases to lawyers who often had little experience or interest in criminal defense.“Now they’re proposing that we use a contract system, which is probably the worst system,” Mr. Pitts said. “It’s disheartening to see them going backwards at this point.”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/10/us/10defenders.html?_r=2&sq=Georgia%20and%20public%20defenders&st=nyt&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&scp=1&adxnnlx=1213099450-ydlcTI0Ir/XBoA/4l+eKyg&oref=slogin
And what "urban manufacturing" jobs are we talking about here?
Brian Nichols is gonna FRY if Georgia has anything to say about it.
Quote from: Miss P on June 11, 2008, 12:18:07 AMAnd what "urban manufacturing" jobs are we talking about here?I was curious about that one too. But I know many southern states have been courting foreign manufacturers very heavily. Back home, for instance, many people who lost jobs when the local textile company moved to Mexico were able to get jobs at the Honda plant that recently opened. Same for the Mercedes plant. And they're also hoping the Northrop/EADS deal comes through b/c they'll locate a factory in Mobile. But these plants generally aren't being located in urban centers, so I'm not sure where that comes from.
Quote from: TruOne on June 11, 2008, 08:01:42 AMBrian Nichols is gonna FRY if Georgia has anything to say about it.As well he should. But I do fear that b/c he has become so notorious, his execution will be akin to the lynching parties of yore...