Federal Criminal Defense: Representing Indigent Clients as a Public Defender

May 22nd, 2016 / By

The right to counsel for criminal charges is essential to our system of justice. The federal and state governments must provide you a lawyer if you can’t afford one. As such, underfunded public defender offices raise serious constitutional — not to mention moral — questions.

In this episode, Candace Hom, a 2001 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, explains her role in the criminal justice system. She also talks about how she builds trust between her and clients, the various legal job roles within the federal public defender office, and the challenges of dealing with prosecutors — even the good ones.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt a law professor at The Ohio State University. It is sponsored by ShouldIBeALawyer.com and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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  • Sy Abelman

    It is time to abolish all Public Defender offices and revisit Gideon and progeny providing a FREE attorney given current market conditions in the legal profession. Gideon was decided when there were not hoards and hoards of attorneys on every corner desperately seeking work and clients. Attorneys back then made good coin, even as a solos. Attorneys were not generally affordable to the Middle Classes and below. Today, In Illinois for instance, there are 97K attorneys. Because of this oversaturated market, attorneys like me will gladly take the business and represent the so called “underserved.” On many matters, I have schlepped to court for as little as $150.00 on simple misdemeanors. I have done simple pleas for $67.50 under a special program that makes folks pay for their defenses through their bond money. I find myself competing with the Public Defender’s Office for clients. I have had folks tell me that they do not want their bond money that they posted to be used as my fee. They would rather go with a public defender. In other words, a FREE attorney. It’s not that they can’t pay or find a desperate “cheap” lawyer like me, they just REFUSE to pay. Any State Prosecutor or current PD will tell you that scores of defendants will openly lie to a court and say they are indigent. Then when the PD comes up with a deal that they don’t like, they magically come up with the funds to hire a Private. Gideon has morphed into a government hand out that directly interferes with the free market—my pocketbook. Would Costco or Walmart tolerate a store called Gov-Mart?

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