The Miami Herald (Motto: "If it's important , we'll get to it eventually") applauded Judge Sigler in her decision declaring the new fee structure for court appointed cases unconstitutional. The Op Ed piece is here.
"So applaud the decision of Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Victoria Sigler to reject a state law that ties the legal bills for defending indigent clients facing the death penalty to state judges’ annual budgets. It’s a violation of the state Constitution, she ruled.
In March, state lawmakers sought to curtail the expenses of a pool of private attorneys appointed to represent death-penalty defendants too poor to pay flifornia or legal assistance."
The costs associated with an adequate death penalty defense: psychological examinations, a complete investigation into a client's psycho-social history, interviewing family members and friends, obtaining medical and school and work and military records can easily exceed $100,000.00. Legal fees for two lawyers working on a case for five years can exceed four or five times that amount and that is with an hourly rate of about $100.00 per hour. How many of our readers have a half a million dollars lying around ready to throw at a death penalty defense should they or a loved one be charged with such a crime?
California voters will decide on Tuesday if the costs of the death penalty are just too much for the state to afford. Millions and millions of dollars can be saved and diverted into infrastructure, schools, roads, hospitals, and teachers, if we would just surrender our blood lust for these crimes. Since when did life in prison become such an easy sentence that we need something worse?
We'll be voting Saturday, somewhere.
Another beautiful holiday weekend on tap. Enjoy.
See you in court Monday.