Shaking things up in Florida

In a move that's upsetting some judges, the Broward County, Fla., public defender has forbidden his attorneys from advising indigent criminal defendants to plead guilty at arraignment unless they've had "meaningful contact" with their clients in advance.

Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, who was elected without opposition last year, announced the policy change, effective immediately , in a memo to each of Broward's 29 circuit and county court criminal division judges on Friday afternoon.

Now what's really interesting about this is the reactions...
Judges went a little crazy, but the DA had a lovely and measured response: Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz's spokesman says "We're supportive of anything that makes the criminal justice system better, The new public defender has identified a problem on the defense side and has set out to fix it. We'll do our part to help make it work." Good for them.

Finklestein is looking to end the "meet, great and plead" system that grew up and accounts for 80 percent of the case dispositions in the county (including felonies). He's created an early representation unit (something we at the Bronx Defenders tried back in 1997) and ordered his PD's to contact incarcerated clients within 48 hours. This is all great news, though it is important to note that in Broward (unlike NY where arraignment happens within 24 hours of arrest) arraignment occurs 4-6 weeks after arrest.

(Thanks to Oren for the tip)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So you guys in the so called free world will happly hide evidence and put a man to death when you know he did not do the crime.
Michael Satz has blood on his hands and in heaven he will have to answer for his crime and stand before his victim and God and explain what he did to that man and his wife.
How can you call yourself land of the free and home of the brave?
I am not anti America and have been to the states many times and like it, but your system is racist and your lust for blood disgusts me. And in case you want to know i'm English not russian.