Public Defenders Case Overload

Public Defenders Overloaded

I have recently realized the public defender system first hand. Realizing how big of an issue it is, I decided to inform the people of how big of problem it is with this project. I found out that the problem is affective to the people who can’t afford an expensive attorney. I was stunned to find out the average time a person talks with their public defender before appearing in front of the judge is 7 minutes. This information is listed in a document, you can read here.

Throughout a year a public defender is recommend to get 150 felony cases, but they are getting way more.  Even if they had enough time to get the cases done, they don’t have the same resources the private attorneys do. People don’t realize how public defenders are deprived of resources such as time for working as hard as they could and witnesses. The public defender system is never the same in different states. Each state is entitled to write their own criminal codes. This could also hurt the person under precaution.

I interviewed a public defender, Michael Arthus. He happens to be a very experienced public defender who gave meaningful first hand information, letting me in on a closer look for the system. There are public defenders who handle the trails and public defenders who are handling appeals. Those who handle the trails will normally be in the courtroom everyday appearing in front of the judge with their clients. Those who do the appeals are mostly sent for research. In Brooklyn, which in every state is different, are given 75-100 cases at a time to juggle. Mr. Arthus says that throughout all his odds he still fights his hardest for the justice for his clients.  

This is a picture of a Brooklyn Defender System Logo...

I also interviewed Taylor Rogers. Taylor, who is my sister, had her case in the hands of a public defender recently. She said that she didn’t even know who her public defender was until day of the court date. Her public defender talked to her 20 minutes before appearing in front of the judge. She does feel as though her public defender did her more justice then she could’ve done. The public defender was “kind” just very busy and rushing when you are having conversations. She feels as though he put forth his best effort and did everything he could.

This picture is a public defender. He is working hard to get his many cases done.

Throughout this project I realized how different each state’s public defender offices are. As I read this article, “I’m a public defender. It’s impossible for me to do a good job representing my clients.”, I found that in New Orleans to avoid layoffs because of the budget cut the entire staff will go 4 weeks in a year without being paid. They’re asked to do way more then an attorney with less material and less everything compared to an attorney. The author of this site says that their clients who can’t pay their bail are focused to sit in jail for 60 days until the district attorney decides to arraign them. During this project we have a part where we need to be an agent of change in our issue we choose. Iḿ thinking about making a website for informing people on how overly overworked the public defenders are. This will be first hand information and give people more notice to the issue and hopefully get the ball rolling on the issue.

This problem among the public defender hasn’t seemed to get any better, it just seems to worsen. What will come next??? Public defenders are going to not be able to deal with the impact of the case overloads as time continues. This research has helped my understanding of public defender so much further than what I thought. I really hope so see some justice among the system, even baby steps help!! I’ve learned that in the justice system money can take you a long way..

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Comments (3)

Andrew Cheatley (Student 2020)
Andrew Cheatley

Really good work and detail here Payton! You are really going to the limits to show people what's going on here. You found something that isn't talked about or noticed about and made it popular amongst the Giknis classroom.

Sara Frunzi (Student 2020)
Sara Frunzi

This blog post has taught me a lot about this issue. Before reading this, I hadn't really know much about public defenders, except that they exist. Something that I'm wondering a little bit about is how PA's public defender laws are similar to or differ from other states in specific regions, such as New England versus in Southern areas of the US.

Louisa Strohm (Student 2020)
Louisa Strohm

Great work Payton! Very courageous and brave of you to contact someone you've never even met to interview and get a new understanding of your subject. You can tell through your writing that you really care about the topic you chose. Keep up the great work!