Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nice article on public defender pay discrepancies

Here is a Wichita Eagle article reporting on pay discrepancies between Sedgwick County prosecutors and public defenders, and some of the implications of that salary gap. I think the discrepancies are even bigger in Johnson County (and are probably less in some other districts, although I would guess that prosecutors get paid more than public defenders in every county that has a district attorney).

I'm glad the article points out some of the non-salary discrepancies as well. By statute, prosecutors get a slice of every court cost that ends up getting paid by defendants for a "training fund." Public defenders get squat. My office has frequently taken other state agencies' throw-away furniture because it's better quality than what we have.

As a matter of constitutional law and legal ethics, quality representation for the poor is not negotiable. If the state doesn't want to pay for indigent defense, it needs to prosecute fewer people (or at least fewer poor people).

The story was noted on Public Defender Stuff here and on Arbitrary and Capricious here. And very flattering comments at Capital Defense Weekly here. Wow, these are, like, all the big names in public defense blogging! Thanks!

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