A recent commentary on Wizbang offered some observations on the criminal justice system in America. However some huge flaws in the justice system went completely unnoticed and unmentioned.
The role of class is a vital determining factor in the application of "justice" in America. Wealthy defendants such as OJ, Robert Blake and record producer Phil Spector have the funds required to afford expensive private legal representation that can establish the grounds for raising "reasonable doubt" issues that make conviction much more difficult, while poorer defendants who cannot afford their own private legal representation, which averages $80,000 for a trial involving a felony charge, often have to opt for a court appointed public defender operating on an average $500 budget that does not include any funds for witnesses, expert testimony or other courtroom displays to help establish reasonable doubt issues that could result in aquital.
Often because of a heavy caseload, public defenders hardly spend any time with a defendant before a trial, fail to bring motions to suppress prejudicial character evidence, fail to use crime investigators, fail to bring witnesses to court, and often only assist the state in pressuring an accused defendant to accepting a plea deal to a crime regardless of whether they are guilty or innocent. Public defenders often make quick snap judgements based on a short interview with the client where the defendant stands in the process, and seem to use the plea process to move things along whether or not their client is guilty. In the public defender mindset, getting four years for an innocent client is better than risking seven years if they lose at trial.
Wealthy clients also have the advantage of hiring jury selection analysts, who decide which jurors get to hear the case, and then the defense is tailored with experts to appeal to these carefully screened jurors to establishing a reasonable doubt standard that makes conviction by a jury ethically difficult. With an average $500 public defender budget, poorer defendants have little say in jury selection or in elaborate courtroom expert use to establish reasonable doubt standards.
Great lawyers such as F. Lee Bailey lament that the American justice system often allows the guilty wealthy to buy their freedom, almost like the U.S. version of the wealthy paying their jailers in some Third World country to buy their freedom.
The wealthy who commit murder or even white collar crimes such as stock market fraud, mail fraud, Email fraud, subprime home loan fraud, payday loan fraud or other crimes know that the odds are against them being convicted, or sometimes even being charged. On the other hand, poorer defendants often have little choice but to accept some plea deal for a crime that they did not commit due to the economics of the justice system. And mandatory sentencing laws, 3 strikes laws or other new legal restrictions tie the hands of a judge who has doubts about the guilt of a poor defendant to offer reduced sentences as well. The role in a trial in which a judge can actually judge the guilt of a defendant has been largely gutted by legislation by conservatives who have often reduced the judge down to some mere moderator in the courtroom process.
The role of the wealthy to buy advantages in the American justice system and bad legal system "reform" legislation often inspired by conservatives have put the justice system in it's worst condition in years.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!