Sunday, August 9, 2015

When truth cannot set you free, hire counsel.

We are often asked by potential clients accused of crimes, often referred by former clients, friends of the Firm or through, whether it is better to have private counsel or the public defender. The public defender exists to provide a basic criminal defense to those who cannot otherwise afford a lawyer.  And for the most part, the public defenders in Maryland do a fine job for their clients.

But sometimes, the public defender is just too overworked, as is demonstrated in this story out of Georgia.

As reported by Mother Jones in a story published August 6, 2015, Mr. Wyatt was re-arrested and charged for a crime that had already been prosecuted several years before. In fact, he had already served 179 days for the crime.  Yet, he sat in jail for another 110 days as the Georgia public defenders assigned to his case fumbled around, either ignoring his explanation of the prior case, or not promptly investigating the allegations.

Those who can afford their own defense counsel are truly fortunate- they receive personalized attention and prompt service by lawyers who often take their cause to heart.  But for those who cannot afford private pay counsel, the public defender can be hit-or-miss. Of course, the ordeal of Mr. Wyatt is an extreme outlier, but he could be any one of us.