The Two Party Criminal Justice System by K.Anderberg
The criminal "justice" system in America is a two party system. In the criminal system, you will be probably be abused by prosecutors and not get decent help from a public defender. And no, there is nowhere else for you to turn. Just like this year's elections.
The Two Party Criminal Justice System
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)
The criminal "justice" system in America is a two party system, just like the rest of American politics currently. It was bad enough when we were given only the choice between very expensive Democratic or Republican white male candidate tickets for president. With that system, somehow another white elitist male attorney named Nader was considered some kind of wild leftist "alternative!" But now they have perfected this thing. Now we can choose from *this* Skull and Boner or *that* Skull and Boner. Finally, Skull and Bones is in the White House no matter *who* wins and it seems like a perfect fruition of decades of political streamlining efforts.
So what am I talking about when I say the criminal "justice" system is a two party system? I am saying there are two parties doing all the mischief, giving an illusion of a two-sided fairness and equity in representation between the state and the accused: the prosecutor and the public defender. There really is nowhere a poor person can go outside that two party system for help once criminally charged. The public defenders do a strange song and dance with the prosecutors to such a deep extent, that they are very much like this year's presidential campaign... if you are poor and charged with a crime, you will most probably be abused by prosecutors and you will most probably not get decent help from a public defender. And no, there is nowhere else for you to turn. Just like this year's elections.
I look at the two party presidential scam and think it is pathetic. Voting is very deceiving in my opinion. Just because you can vote, does not mean there is freedom. Because part of what needs to be put in the voting equation is *who* we can vote *for*. If we can all vote, but we are only allowed to choose between *this* privileged white male or *that* privileged white male, then the votes of blacks, women, the poor, etc. really do not have much voice. They are really stuck playing an illusive game the *looks* like free choice but it is not. Additionally, if some of these poor people want to run for office themselves, it is nearly impossible, as the fees, and economic obligations of running on a serious political ticket are beyond the means of the poor. So yes, women, the poor, and "minorities" can vote. (Well, there were those accusations last year in Florida that they were actively thwarting the black population from voting... but I digress). So we can vote, but the *real* question is, and remains, *who can we vote for?* And the other side to that is: *can we run for office ourselves?*
Then I look at the sickly criminal injustice system in America and I see very similar patterns. I went to law school 1) to protect myself from cops who were hassling me as a street performer, and 2) to help the poor. But once I got into the system a bit, I began to realize that being a public defender is not really about freely and competently representing a criminally charged client to your fullest capability. It is about processing those criminal cases like a line up at a McDonald's drive through window. I began to see it was about spreading your services so thin as to give *no one* proper representation. And by being involved in that, you are really *helping* police and prosecutors in many ways. I understand we need "free" legal representation, but *bad* free legal representation is very dangerous. Just like the illusion of a choice this election, between two Skull and Boners, in the criminal "justice" world, the public defenders play into the hands of the prosecutors very often, playing along with plea bargains, etc., not advising their clients on what is happening to them and their choices and rights, etc. In some cases, it seems the public defenders are helping the prosecutors more than their clients, and they spend more time with the prosecutors than their clients, too.
This is not some kind of revelation. In Seattle, the BAR Association, the City Council, the public pretenders themselves, and the victims of poor representation by public defenders, *all* admit there is a severe problem. The caseload numbers are one *obvious* area that is causing ongoing problems. The public defenders are taking on caseloads they absolutely *cannot* manage with competence. Another area is equity in funding. Across the board, prosecutors normally receive two times the funding that public defenders do. How can that be fair? Look, there is a reason that very few people with money and private attorneys go to jail. Something like 90% of those charged with crimes by the state require a public defender. Which tells you who they are arresting. And how self-serving and profitable this whole criminal justice/jail system is to the state. I have watched *big* crimes occur in Seattle over and over, and if you are employed by the state or are in an upper middle class income level, you just get a slap on the hand, a day on the news and pay fines. If you are poor and commit far lesser crimes, you are put into the meat grinder of prosecutors and public pretenders and there ain't no getting out until *they* say they are through with you.
A judge recently went into a public park in the Seattle area and just cut down huge trees because they were blocking his estate's view. This was most certainly a crime, a big crime, as he cut down *many* old trees, and it was certainly a crime against the public. And he was a judge and knew better. But was *he* criminally processed? Hell, no. He was slapped on the wrist and fined. And how about that old Police Chief of Tacoma Brames? He admitted he raped a woman when he went to her home for police questioning, the Tacoma Police *knew* this had happened and yet they *still* promoted this guy to police chief. In the end, he killed his wife and then himself because she did not obey him. So who is allowed to just flagrantly break serious laws, and who is prosecuted for stupid victimless misdemeanors, is very much politicized.
When we were learning about pro bono representation in law school, I was quite interested. The ethics of the law profession promotes doing free legal work for the community. Not a lot, mind you, but a token amount, for sure. So when we started learning about pro bono attorneys, at the same time I was learning about malpractice in another class, and I put two and two together. I asked my ethics professor about the situation when one has a pro bono attorney, and then receives unethical treatment rising to the level of malpractice. I asked would another pro bono attorney take a malpractice case against a pro bono attorney who grossly violated a client's rights? She laughed and said she did not think so. I asked where the checks and balances were, then, for these pro bono attorneys. So are we saying since the client is poor enough to need a pro bono attorney, he is in a free for all crap shoot? And he has a one shot deal? And there is no recourse? Yep, that is pretty much the situation in a nut shell. And the amount of pro bono attorneys sitting around are so few as to be needles in a hay stack for most who are criminally charged. There are a small few attorneys out there that are motivated by politics, activist attorneys, and they are the exception to this pro bono rule, as their motivation is political, not career or money oriented.
So since pro bono attorneys are nearly nonexistent and are basically unaccountable to their clients, which is very frightening, all the poor really have left once entrapped in the criminal injustice system is this thing where the prosecutor and public defenders bounce you back and forth off walls together. It is not like you can fire your public defender when he never returns your calls and represents you very badly in court, and instead then get a competent one. Because no matter what public defender you get, their employer is always the same: the state. And thus the two party system in the criminal justice system, is the two branches of the state: prosecutors and public defenders. The two parties play volleyball with lives. They throw lives to the prosecutor for a while, and then the prosecutor serves it over to the public defender side, where they volley it, then spike it back at prosecutors, who fumble or spike it back. It is sickening how much like a *game* this is, as people sweat bullets and are emotionally scarred waiting, being volleyed back and forth, helpless. Families are in crisis waiting for the state's volleyball game to end. People's lives are on hold while these prosecutors and public defenders do their insider trading games. Working out deals with the lives of the poor on the golf course, in symbolism, if not reality. The way the public defenders function is not independent of the criminal injustice system at all. They are basically *part* of the criminal injustice system. At this point, the way the prosecutors and public defenders treat clients, it is very hard to distinguish *who actually is* on the side of the client.
And what if your public defender does a horrific job? What is your recourse? To get *another* public defender to go back and right the wrongs the first public defender committed? Yeah, remember, they are already backed up with 50 cars waiting at their fast food, I mean fast law, drive though window. There is little to *no* recourse when your public defender misrepresents you or poorly advises you or trades your life away in plea bargains because they do not have resources to go to trial properly. I have also heard of cases where the victim contacts the boss of the crappy public defender *demanding* someone look into the ridiculous "representation" received, and that boss tells the victim that asking for recourse is harassment and that they would call the police if the victim asked for recourse again. Perfect insulation there. They already know he just came off charges. They know he is exhausted and still reeling from the fear. So, public defenders can easily just use fear, to tell their disgruntled ex-clients to shut up or they will have them locked up again. Public defenders know how to scare their clients into submission as well as any cop or prosecutor.
So the fact that prosecutors and public defenders play with the lives of the poor, in a way they *do not* play with the lives of those such as public tree hacking judges and rapist cops and police chiefs, makes both public defenders and prosecutors suspect. They are both participating in this corruption. And the fact that there is no recourse for pathetic representation by public defenders is another huge red flag. The fact that public defenders defend this system and do not protest it with vigilance and public outcry, makes me wonder what they are doing. Makes me wonder who they are actually working for. Yes, let's look at that too. Who *pays* these public defender if not the clients. Oh yeah. The *state* pays the public defenders. See any problem there? The *state* charges the victim with the puffed up felony charges they can play with later in plea bargaining to get a guilty plea on a gross misdemeanor, and then the *state* pays for the public defenders to "defend" the victim from the *state*. Anyone but me see problems with that? That sure looks like the fox guarding the henhouse to me. And, since the state *pays* the public defenders, the public defenders need to quit treating their clients as if their legal representation is some form of "free" charity. Public defenders are paid, and if they weren't, they would not be public defenders, most probably. They may be choosing to work for one of the employers who pay lower wages, but hey, most of America is forced into those types of choices. It does not mean public defenders are working for free. They are not. They are paid by the state.
This may seem a weird analysis to some, and it is. But I say with heartfelt conviction that the current system where the state criminally charges the poor, predominantly, not the middle class criminals, then the state pays for public defenders, claiming "equal" representation, is a crime that does not break any laws. There is no "equal" representation going on within the criminal "justice" system. It is a two party state system. You are volleyed between prosecutors and public defenders as if you are nonhuman. And the recourse is nil. People who supposedly "give" their work away, such as pro bono attorneys and public defenders, (even though public defenders are *paid* by the state and pro bono attorneys are often paid by their firm to take those cases to make the firm look like it does charity) are perfectly insulated within the system from malpractice. Clients receiving public defenders are treated like welfare recipients, with the same level of abuse. There are no safe alternatives in our presidential elections this year, Skull and Bones is *staying* in the White House no matter who wins. And there are no safe alternatives in our criminal injustice system either. Either way the *state* controls it all. The *state* controls the prosecutors and the public defenders. And the victims have little to no say, or recourse, to that two party, state paid, criminal injustice system.
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