I am so loving Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. First the no meet and plead plan and now this:
Howard and Chiles
"In a fiery letter to judges this week, Finkelstein charged that defendants who can afford to hire a private attorney get their cases heard first in some courtrooms while the poor with public defenders must wait. (Exactly--welcome to my world...)
'A judge's practice of calling public-defender cases last signifies to our clients that the judge sees them as less important than private attorney clients and that their lawyer is not respected,' Finkelstein wrote. 'Routinely pushing my clients to the back of the bus is unacceptable.'
It's Finkelstein's warning about the state Code of Judicial Conduct that has judges in an uproar. In the letter, Finkelstein noted that the code requires judges to avoid the appearance of prejudice based on socioeconomic status. Judges who violate the code can be removed from office. Some judges are interpreting Finkelstein's mention of the code as a thinly veiled threat to file complaints against them, says Broward's Chief Judge Dale Ross.
Even before the letter, Finkelstein had the judges upset because his office filed a complaint last month against Circuit Judge Leonard Feiner. The complaint accuses Feiner of making biased statements about the courthouse's Haitian cleaning crew for moving his phone, coffee mug and desk supplies on his courtroom bench. "