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If you arrived on this web page, you are likely aware of critical funding deficiencies in the New Orleans public defenders office. As a member of the Trial Advocacy Program faculty, at Tulane University School of Law, I teach with judges of the Criminal Court; because of that connection, I had been appointed to serious felony cases in that Court, in March, 2012.
But a far less visible issue has been that the lack of funding caused the necessary creation of a "waiting list" for representation by the public defenders office, here. While that may be sensible, for many defendants, now about 100 on the list, the judges here did not appoint someone else. Those defendants are, for all practical purposes, in jail, and without lawyers -- even though they have had their first appearance. And, there are individuals, without lawyers, who are not even on that list.
This is a severe, and ridiculous problem, and I have taken the step of filing an original petition to our Louisiana State Supreme Court. Filed on July 16th, 2012, the petition is way out of the ordinary, and is founded on the principle that the LA S. Ct. is, by constitution and statute, the body that regulates the affairs of the District Courts. It seeks to have our highest court direct the district courts to appoint lawyers within days.
If you wish to speak up, as an attorney, join my petition, or share your opinion with the judiciary or other members of the bar. Or, as a citizen interested in a functional criminal justice system, speak out publicly.
--- John Ruskin
--- New Orleans, Louisiana
--- July 16th, 2012
New Orleans, Louisiana
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