Saturday, August 05, 2006

Justice(?)

A lot has been made of the New Orleans criminal justice system. One thing I hear from folks out hear on the east coast is that New Orleans would be better served if judges wouldn't let defendants out of jail. I always thought that sounded like a pretty reasonable solution. But G-Bitch brings up the other side of the coin.

On this blog, we discussed war on the Judicial Branch of government, and one thing I think came out of that discussion was that many times, things that are percieved to be a problem with the Judicial Branch are really problems with the Legislature and the Executive Branches not doing their damn jobs.

So what's the take on Judge Hunter? I don't want crooks back on the street whether they can afford a lawyer or not, but we do have the right to speak with an attorney, and if we cannot afford one, an attorney will be appointed by the state. That's a big reason our legal system, while flawed, is still considered one of the foundations of our individual liberties. I know indigent and public defenders don't have a glamorous job, nor one that many people like paying for through tax dollars. But their existence is far more important to the overall scheme of things than a lot of people are willing to admit.

I'll go on record as saying I think Judge Hunter is absolutely within his rights to subpoena Governor Katherine Blanco. I'd say Judge Hunter would be within his rights to issue a bench warrant for contempt of court, at this point, with the state 11 months in arrears. I don't like his plan to release indigent defendants who have no representation, especially for any serious crimes, but if both representation and speedy trial are legal requirements, he does have legal grounds to do so.

He will catch flak for this, I'm sure, but this is another case where the Legislature and Executive (especially the Executive) have absolutely failed to live up to the oaths of their offices, and are actually forcing Judge Hunter's hand.

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