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December 29, 2015


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Thanks for engaging with the practitioners. If as one of the Chicago-area Anons noted in your prior post, a goal of law school is to train professionals, it's nice to see that some faculty are willing to ask, "how are we doing in meeting that goal?" What should legal services and law schools look like?

Imagine a music school where students are trained by lecture on theory of sound, composition 101, music theory, history of jazz, music in the modern world, and music and literature. The faculty proudly boast that students can think like the best musicians, but refuse to look at whether they can play and claim that it's not their job to ensure that grads and paying gigs bear some relationship to each other. It wouldn't be a very good system. That's where we are with law.


My experience with Sly is similar, but on the prosecution side, as far as assigning of the public defender are had (I always like when a Defendant comes in later, magically having raised money when the PD doesn't go along with their plan and says they want to "hire a real lawyer.").

A hastily scratched out "affidavit of assets and liabilities" is submitted and Defendants are asked if they have a job, or not even that sometimes (when obviously low-income Defendants are charged with serious felony charges with correspondingly high bonds). A decent amount of the time, at bond hearings, Defendants say they have job interviews in a couple of hours, or that they will lose their job if they miss one more day of work.

Are the affidavits ever checked (it's a felony if they lie) or are interviewers contacted (perjury as well)? The lies are expected, and tolerated, in the name of expediency, and the overburdening of the PD's office and the monetary loss to the defense bar (which goes beyond less money in Sly's pocket) is just another cost that is to be borne.

I'm kind of cynical at this point ("How do I apply for drug court?" asks the Defendant at his bond hearing who was caught with a sophisticated drug manufacturing lab), but honestly who is going to pore through all the affidavits and follow up with the "interviewers" and stuff.

Would it really be proper for the judge's clerks to inquire with bank accounts, income, and stuff (AFAIK affidavits don't contain a release so that court staff can verify bank accounts)? Would they refer that to prosecutors for perjury charges? Or would that be a contempt of court proceeding brought on the motion of the judge?

There are some free services that I have noticed cropping up or existing that I wasn't aware of where non-lawyers assist people in getting restraining orders and OPs where the people are basically giving legal advice but not technically.


The music school analogy above is perfectly on point.

Sy Ablelman

Here is a thought. Overturning Gideon and abolishing public defender offices. In 1963, lawyers were a scarce commodity commanding top dollar for legal representation. Very few attorneys bothered with low fee criminal defendants. Today, the attorney market is grotesquely overstaturated. My colleagues and I, cheap attorneys,(or Schleppers in previous posts) have appeared in court for as little as $100. We are desperate for the work. I view the public defender's office as a Gub'mint intrusion into the private markets. It turns the free market on its head. Yes, the 6th Amendment provides the right to counsel, but not free counsel because one lives in a Walmart world with everyday low prices. The prosecutor is correct, many clients magically come up with money when they don't like the PD's deal....

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