Public defender workplace the precise transfer


The only true justice comes after a fair fight.

Our Constitution guarantees every person charged with a crime the right to an attorney who can raise a sound defense in open court. That means the state must pay to hire an attorney to defend those who can’t afford to hire an attorney for himself or herself.

That’s to prevent overzealous governments local, state, or national from prosecuting political enemies or railroading the poor and to make sure we do all we can to keep innocent people out of jail.

But our governments haven’t invested in protecting that right, often leaving poor defendants represented by overworked, underpaid public attorneys who lack the time or resources to give their clients the representation to which they’re entitled.

Even when everyone’s doing everything right and giving all they can — which we believe happens most of the time — poor criminal defendants can get left behind.

That’s we’re glad to see, as News staff writer Julie Riddle recently reported, Alpena County using recent state investment in indigent defense to create a public defender’s office. Sometime around June 1, the county should open an office with full-time, salaried attorneys dedicated to defending the region’s poor in court. That would replace the current system of private attorneys hired on a case-by-case basis and often mixing public defender work with their private practice clients they rely on to pay their bills.

Such a change won’t fix every problem. But it will fix many, and we’re glad to see it happen.

We encourage readers to write to their state representatives to tell them they’re glad to see the change happen and encourage them to keep the money coming.

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