Earnest public defenders overburdened

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The recent media attention to the mistrial in the Robert Gruka molestation case largely missed its mark.

While the pain the victims will have to endure in a retrial is unfortunate, and the mistakes by the public defender are lamentable, the real story, if a reporter wanted to do some true investigative journalism, is why the Public Defender’s Office is so overburdened with cases. Instead of the media doing a quick hit-job on public defenders, it would be nice to see a story on those attorneys who devote their careers to assisting people who do not have the financial resources for legal defense.

Public defenders work for relatively little pay and very little thanks, and for reporters to assail them for the sake of cheap sensationalism is a disservice to both the Public Defender’s Office and the molestation victims.

Given sufficient resources and manpower, all public defenders would come to trial prepared, and all of society would benefit.

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Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 09/22/11 - 02:53 am
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Well-written and -reasoned.

Well-written and -reasoned.

Riverman1
81596
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Riverman1 09/22/11 - 08:38 am
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The American Bar Association

The American Bar Association has guidelines for how many criminal cases a lawyer should be handling at one time. Public Defenders have at least 5 times the prescribed caseload. Thank goodness for young attorneys seeking trial experience and those dedicated older attorneys. They do this for little pay.

Either get the system under control with more PD's or start sending everyone out to private attorneys with the state picking up the tab at the cost of many, many millions. The system is at the breaking point now and untenable.

Mugatu
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Mugatu 09/22/11 - 08:53 am
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Let's consider the following:

Let's consider the following: Each Superior Court Judge in the Augusta Circuit is assigned the same number of Assistant District Attorneys and Public Defenders. The Public Defenders are compensated at the same rate, or better, than their ADA counterparts. In this case, according to open records, the PD was making $75K. The ADA - $57K. The Public Defenders have fewer cases than their ADA counterparts - a product of not every defendant being indigent - and they have no burden whatsoever in a criminal case to prove anything. The ADAs have the burden of proving each and every element of a crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. All PDs have to do is attack the State's case and put on a defense, if one exists, and it remains the ADA's burden to DISPROVE the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the Public Defender's Office properly screened applicants, instead of taking virtually every person who applies, they would have far fewer cases to defend ... that, however, might affect their budget.

Riverman1
81596
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Riverman1 09/22/11 - 09:06 am
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Mugatu, I really don't know

Mugatu, I really don't know about here in Augusta with the county funded PD office, but I can assure you your numbers are way off when we are talking about public defenders working for the state. By the way, what does the average PD make in Augusta and the average ADA?

Here is the difference in the workload for PD's v.A DA's. Every accused has the right to a visit from an attorney. The PD's have to visit them, get their story and then deal with the ADA as is done in 95% of the cases. The ADA's read the reports and take 2 minutes on the phone with the PD to cut a deal.

Riverman1
81596
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Riverman1 09/22/11 - 09:10 am
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Mugatu, in this case, the PD

Mugatu, in this case, the PD went against an ADA? Was this the chief PD? Every place I know of assistant PD's make far less than ADA's. Compare the salaries of the Chief PD and DA.

informed opinion
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informed opinion 09/23/11 - 10:13 am
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The starting salary for

The starting salary for Assistant Public Defenders (in State Court) is higher than their ADA (Superior Court) counterparts and substantially higher than their Solicitor General counterparts (State Court). Assistant PDs also continue to get raises despite the budgetary issues of this County. ADAs have not gotten raises in over 3 years. If you don't believe this, or are like Riverman1 and "don't know about here in Augusta" check it out on the following websites:

http://open.georgia.gov/sta/viewMain.aud

http://old.chronicle.augusta.com/metro/salaries/richmond_county.shtml

workforaliving
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workforaliving 09/25/11 - 01:26 pm
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Riverman1 don't be too fast.

Riverman1 don't be too fast. Under the new regime of Kate Mason and her new assistant , they are running off the senior employees and bringing in inexperienced staff for this office. They are turning it upside down in many derogatory ways. From what I hear moral was never this low as it is since Mr. Sibley died.

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