According to the Herald, the costs of defending a death penalty defense in Miami are high and it takes a real long time for the cases to go to trial or be resolved.
Mr. Abe Laeser was interviewed and he opined that defense attorneys have a financial incentive to drag the case out, which is one reason why the cases take so long to resolve. He seems to think this is a problem.
We beg to differ.
This is Rumpole's defense of defense attorneys having a financial incentive on a case.
First, what would be the opposite of an attorney having a financial incentive in a case? It would be paying an attorney a flat fee. What would that do? No matter the fee- even if it were a million dollars per case, it would create the economic incentive to NOT explore every issue, challenge every fact, look for every possible witness and consider every possible defense.
Who wants an attorney like that? Only prosecutors.
The death penalty in this county is a national shame. With all the work and supposed expertise of detectives, prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys- courts still send INNOCENT men and women to death row at the fairly consistent average of 5 percent. Five people out of every hundred sentenced to death are INNOCENT.
So what we want is every attorney to have the greatest possible financial incentive to work on the case as hard as possible. The more they work, the more they earn. It works in civil law, why not criminal law? The more they work, the more possible issues and defenses are uncovered. The more the defense attorney works, the harder it is for a prosecutor to obtain a death sentence.
Far from being a problem in death penalty cases, the current method of paying criminal defense attorneys (other than having an hourly rate akin to a plumber and not a skilled professional) is one of the only things standing between society's desire for vengeance and an innocent person being executed.
But what about those cases where "we know he did it"?
Ask Richard Jewell about what happens when everyone in the country "knows" you did it. (You can't actually. He died of a heart attack.)
Ask the five juveniles (four black, one Hispanic) who were convicted of raping the central park jogger what happens when everyone "knows" you did it and you are sentenced to prison and your case is affirmed on appeal. Ask them about being innocent in the face of everyone "knowing" you did it.
Keep the incentives. Just pay the lawyers more.
See you in court.
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