Since I'd previously written in favor of a public defender office in Harris County, I should point readers to newly minted defense attorney Murray Newman's critique of the idea. The second bulleted Chron story informs us that Judge Michael McSpadden is not a fan, either. He has chosen not to participate in the new public defender office, preferring to appoint attorneys as he's always done.
Brisby Brown spent 17 months jailed in Harris County, serving time for a crime for which he was never convicted, all the while complaining his rights to an adequate defense and a speedy trial were ignored.
Though there was no trial and no judgment, there is a price. Brown is one of thousands of indigent inmates who collectively cost Harris County taxpayers about $24 million each year. In Brown's case, the public paid his jail keep and his lawyers' bills for well over a year before charges of drug possession were abruptly dropped in June.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Will public defender office reduce Harris County pretrial detention costs?
Two related articles in the Houston Chronicle focus on whether a public defender office would reduce pretrial detention costs for indigent defendants: