WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Thursday, February 20, 2014

THE PUBLIC DEFENDER PARADOX

Here's some breaking news (steady yourself) The NY Times reports here that Public Defenders are (gasp!) overworked. 

The issue is money. Public Defender offices are underfunded. People will pay for prisons but not the legal representation to keep people who don't belong in prison out of prison. 

It has mostly always been that way, and it doesn't appear change is on the horizon. 

That the PDs are overworked and under paid is no secret. 

Here's the dirty secret of criminal defense: 
the private practitioner who is in a cut throat competition to get cases is also overworked and underpaid. The difference is that the private attorney is responsible for their own problems. 

The PD Paradox ( (c) Rumpole 2014)  is that the capitalistic-free market system is producing this result: the  unsophisticated client, thinking  that the free PD won't best serve their interests, hires a private lawyer who may and often performs worse for them.  The PD is often the best and most experienced lawyer the client is  going to see. 

In exchange for paying some money, the client gets  a lawyer with a fancier office and perhaps a more responsive staff. But what the client doesn't know is that the lawyer, in offering the lowest possible fee to secure the case, has only one incentive/goal: plea out the case as quickly as possible with as little work and investigation as possible. Meanwhile, the PD has the investigative resources to more thoroughly investigate the case. The PD is committed to taking all the depositions and filing all the motions necessary to defend the client, no matter how long it takes.


The free market has driven down prices through competition, but it has not raised the quality of service offered by private lawyers. Quality and efficiency are  usually (and in theory are required to be)  the most important byproduct of competition. 

What to do? 

See You In Court. 


26 comments:

Anonymous said...

PDO needs to put a section in their training about building good relationships with the private defense bar. You may be one of us soon.

More likely you'll leave and come back like most.

Anonymous said...

high priced lawyers suck too

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202643725874/Al+Cardenas+Leaves+Tew+Cardenas+For+Squire+Sanders typical republican move, ditches on his own firm.

Anonymous said...

I can see the argument re incentive, but there are countervailing motivations to serve well. Reputation, future referrals from satisfied client, honor, commitment to the oath of attorney; these are only a few.

I feel sorry for you and you perception of our profession. The sarcastic, mostly negative options you put in (your world view) proves your problem.

You wee thing negatively, but the largest portion of your readers are unrepentant in their optimism. Just because you find it easy to envision screwing a client who pays a small fee, doesn't make it the predominant practice.

Anonymous said...

As a private attorney, I remember thinking many times, and sometimes outright advising, that an underfunded client is better served with the public defender's office, which has the ability to take depositions without cost to the client, and has better access to social services.

Anonymous said...

Haven't received any info on Jackie schwartz fundraising events...... Wonder if she plans to have any.

When is the fourth person entering that race? Dooley- stay in that race- don't give up.

Greer Wallace- hope you run again!!

Anonymous said...

Just hire the Q. And never lose.

Miami Beach ESQ. said...

I am available for interviews on this issue.

Anonymous said...

To the detriment of my wallet I've advised plenty of potential clients to stay with the PD because I know that they'll be able to get better representation and be able to afford it.
I think when we have the discussions about law schools we need to have a mandatory placement at State or PD as part of requirements.
Not just the lit skills programs or cli's but same way med students do real work on way to becoming dr.

Anonymous said...

What you fail to recognize is that most private attorneys have more experience than PD's two years out of law school-and more importantly a much lower amount of cases to defend. I can spend the time necessary to defend each and every case-can a PD say the same thing

Anonymous said...

From a services perspective - investigations, social work, etc -the PD is by far better than most private attorneys. However, from a purely lawyer perspective I beg to differ that the PD's are better than most private attorneys. Often times the younger PD's are too caught up in following their office police re: taking depositions and doing mitigation that they miss the chances to win cases. Most common examples are in cases where the alleged victims are either not wanting to cooperate or where the alleged victims have open felony cases themselves. In those cases with non-cooperating victims, the seasoned private attorney knows not to file Rules to Show Causes against reluctant witnesses and to just announce ready for trial because good things will normally happen for the client. The PD's however go ahead and set depositions, file rules to show causes, waive natural speedy trials and force reluctant witnesses to come forward when they do not want to. In the cases involving alleged victims in jail or with pending criminal charges, again the seasoned private attorney knows that they already have built in impeachment for trial and do not need to take depositions. Just announce ready on those cases and do not waive speedy trial and good things will happen for those clients. So I do disagree that clients are better off with PD's from at least that aspect. There is too much emphasis on numbers for their budget as opposed to just getting the best result for the client.

Anonymous said...

Q is the ultimate plea machine

Anonymous said...

I am Shocked , shocked that
( there is gambling going on)
that the PDs while overworked and underpayed are great Attorneys

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

Circuit Court Judges who have not filed for re-election...

Judge Rosa Figarola and Judge Orlando Prescott are the last two incumbents that have still not yet filed their papers for re-election.

Last month, when contacted, both of them assured me that they were going to run to keep their seats.

To be fair, they have nearly three months until the filing deadline.

Cap Out ....

Rumpole said...

I see private attys who can't do an arraignment. Never take depos or file motions.

Anonymous said...

If you can't hire the very,very best, go with the PD.

the trialmaster said...

The trialmaster offers a reasonable doubt for a reasonable fee.

Better Call Saul said...

Better call Saul

EX Black Jack Dealer said...

As the name implies I worked in casinos prior to going to law school. I have often thought that was happens to a criminal defendant is a lot like roulette. You spin the ball and hope it lands in the right slot. When you are booked into jail the computer assigns you a judge.(a lot of random luck involved here) From there you get an ASA who will review your case and file charges that they deem appropriate. Then it goes to division or special unit, depending on the charges, and then into court system you go. Hopefully you will get a reasonable ASA but not always. (Think Broward ASA's). If you have a few $$$, or access to some $$$, you go and get a defense attorney, plenty of random luck for the unsophisticated consumer here. There are plenty of good defense attorney's in South Florida but also a lot of garbage. If your lucky you get a dilligent and capable attorney, if not then you are in deep sh*t. Go to trial , same situation with jury's, maybe a good panel maybe a bunch of "2 hours to watch 60 minutes" morons. All of the above in random.

Lose your case in Miami-Dade then you are at the mercy of the 3rd DCA. 80%-90% rubber stamping lazy jokes who couldn't make a dime if they were solo and had to rely on themselves, as opposed to a firm, to bring in business.

The same holds true for the PD's office some are pretty good some are not. The point is is that what happens to most defendant's is it is all random and if you spin the ball and it lands in the wrong slot anywhere along the way in the criminal justice system you go to prison. Every now and then you spin the ball and it lands in a perfect spot you get justice.

Anonymous said...

Really Rump?! I work my ass off for my clients, provide them with quick and responsive service and get great results! Most PD's don't take or respond to client's calls and certainly don't give them their cell numbers. I have 30 years of hard earned experience, over a hundred trials and I spend much of my free time reading about the law and honing my craft. I love the PD's office as it is a great place to start but except in very rare cases, the client is much better off with me than them! Sure, there are plenty lazy lawyers in town, and even more incompetents, but for most of us, we put it all out there for their clients!

Anonymous said...

As for the private defense bar -- the problem is simple and so is the solution. There are too many lawyers. This is because the ABA is a joke and there is financial incentive for mediocre schools to open law schools. Law schools cost little to run -- pay for space and pay a professor's salary (no lab, no tech), and make huge money. (Remember, about 60 paying students per professor). Tuition has gone up something like 500% since the 80s, and most of it is paid in federally guaranteed loans. So the schools get paid by the govt, and the poor sucker millenial law student is left with 200k debt and no job or a shitty 35k job. He will default and the taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

How many law schools does Florida have? How many does it need? No offense to Gulf Coast or FIU or Ave Maria or wherever, but if the ABA had balls and brains theyd shut this shit down. Florida probably needs TWO law schools, at most. Not ten. This would mean thousands fewer debt-ridden JDs with no jobs and a much higher quality of representation. Less racing to the bottom with fees as every desperate JD fights to be the guy who takes a DUI for $399.

Instead, though, the ABA and Florida will continue to open and accredit NEW law schools and continue to charge suckers 50k a year in tuition, because its easy money for them.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

What you won't see on this BLOG.

Rumpole chastising the HEAT for getting their butt kicked by OKC.

Rumpole giving any mention to the HEAT and their six game road trip where they went 5-1 and beat the Thunder, Clippers, Suns, Warriors, and Mavs; which are five of the top eight seeds in the Western Conference.

In fact, the HEAT are 10-2 against the West's top eight teams this season having beaten all but Houston, who they have yet to play.

Rumpole noting that the HEAT are now only one game out in the loss column to the Pacers for the one seed.

Rumpole praising LB James on his masterful performance against OKC and putting to rest any doubt who the MVP of the NBA really is. Hashtag #takeabackseatKD.

Cap Out .....
Captain4justice@gmail.com



Anonymous said...

Worst home loss for OKC in five years. Lebron smoked Durant.

Anonymous said...

10:09 hit it on the head.

It's really that simple. The quality of representation is inversely proportional to the number of lawyers competing for business once you get as saturated as our profession is. The ABA and the law schools have created this problem out of pure greed.

In professional services like ours, with so much at stake, unfettered competition is not such a good thing. Fungible widgets, yes. Professional services with people's lives on the line, not so much.

I would also agree that if you can't hire a high quality lawyer, go with the PD. On substance, there is nobody better.

Anonymous said...

As a Public Defender who has tried every kind of case possible, I can tell you that there are good ones, bad ones and everything in between. I suspect the same is true in the private bar, regardless of the fee they charge. I think the big difference between a PD and a private is that a private is more accessible because they don't have as many cases. Privates give out their cell phone numbers, PDs don't. And why would a PD do that, it's not like someone is going to hand them $5000 cash because you picked up the phone at 11pm. PDs try cases for fun. Privates begrudgingly tries them because it takes them away from their businesses. I understand. But unless you can really get one of the better private attorneys (and there is quite a few good ones in Miami) and you are not a needy client who needs their hand held throughout the process, then you are probably better off with the PDs.

Anonymous said...

Face it. There are just too many attorneys being churned out of law school. That's why there are low prices and too much competition. The change years ago that allowed advertising by attorneys also brought down the profession significantly.