If you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you – that’s how it’s supposed to work. But in New Orleans, the lawyer in charge of representing poor people accused of crimes is saying no. His office doesn’t have enough money or time to do a good job, he says, so he’s refusing some serious cases, which is jamming up the courts and leaving hundreds of people stuck in jail with no lawyer. His goal? To break the system in order to fix it.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey. It is your favorite host in all of pod custom. Now for the rest of the year, I'm gonna be asking you to join us by becoming a member of reveal reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads telling stories that matter for more than three years now reveal has been fighting a lawsuit. That's been jeopardizing our very existence of restore. We about an organization called planet aid. Our story raises serious questions about whether international aid was actually reaching the people. It was intended to help and what's more, our story was truthful and we stand by it. We believe it's our duty to fight attacks like this, but fighting a lawsuit comes at a huge costs, are legal fees alone totalled more than seven million dollars. Luckily, we have pro bono legal support to help our in house counsel, but it still takes significant resources, resources that should be used to do more public service journalists. This kind of investigative
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all this is a town where culture takes place in public parades. Second lines: festivals, just about every week here folks gather in large groups to listen to music dance follow up and down the street. Would we'll come together like this. It can spark a great time or because of it That's parts to light a wildfire November, two thousand and fifteen a few nights before Thanksgiving. It was a Sunday just after sunset, a few hundred people had gathered in a playground called Bunny Friend Park. They were DJ's and music and a little after six p dot m people are you getting rowdy then shots ring out is like a like a war. The people fall,
machine gun of this young college student, who also work full time, had come to Bunny Friend Park with a friend to check out the dj She asked us not to use her name because she's afraid someone advice, of the crime will come after when the shooter started, she tried to run, it was so if exits, but people standing in exile shooting so it was very, very I guess it's kind of like a rushing pain. Like my leg felt very heavy like more than the other league, so desperately need look down, and I know that my puddles oblige seventeen people were shot, now, no one was killed, but it shouldn't ones: the bunny friend shooting was all over the news
was one more reminder of how bad crime is. In the city independent producer Eve, Abrams has been reporting in New Orleans for nine years. She was found the shooting and what happened with the police made their first rest. That arrest would have huge and unexpected ripple effects That would go way beyond the shooters in the victim's here's eve, five days after the shooting the New Orleans police identified. Therefore, suspect. Thirty. Two year old man named Joseph Alan, and that same morning, the day after Thanksgiving Private Defence attorney Kevin both went into work. I map Oshea at his office outside New Orleans. It was weird it look like a motel converted into office sweets. We sat down at a big table in the conference room lined with books, so he could tell me this.
All story, can you lock us, through the just a case from the very sure, fluctuating absolutely no, no problem? This is how Beauchamp sounds almost all the time like he's in the middle of putting out a fire on the scope of sea to his flight with Curly gray, hair and glasses. He's been a lawyer for over three DEC I have almost without exception or the day after Thanksgiving. The phones don't ring the clients bang and on the doors, it's quiet, its peaceful, it's beautiful, but this day but phone was ringing when he walked in on the other, friend of the line was a former client Joseph Alan Oshea reenacted. The call for me he got really into it can have is Joseph was Joseph balance? Yes, not figure. This can't be a social call, the something wrong, but I dont know what it is. Thus, a new Alan he'd representative before getting
Madam president, on parole and on wasn't too happy to hear what Alan said next unwanted for what Joe the thing, what thing a thing. What did you know that Bunny friend thing expletive deleted? You can't be serious. Kevin. I'm telling you I didn't do it, I wasn't there. I didn't do it. I wasn't there. Where are you? Houston gets your behind back here, right, this minute. Oshea had worked really Hard to get Alan out on pearl before so the next day, when Alan made it to his office bushes, was annoyed. This is how you repay me. You know being involved in the worst. They you dear charge, was seventeen counts and attempted second degree. Murder holy
come come on and he says the cat it I've got, prove proof it starts, hold only receipts and longer. Walmart, Burlington Code Factory, all from stores and Houston from the same day as the shooting. I'll until both show you a shopping with his pregnant wife, the problem was he paid for everything in cash. None of the receipts had his name on them Oh she knew the prosecutors would say. Alan's receipts proved nothing well where's the video they will ask, and so I sat back and I turn to Joseph and said Joseph. This is good, but it's not good enough though she was on the case that, in the meantime,
had to bring an end to the police station where he was booked the next morning, but she gets on the farm with a private investigator in Texas he's racing against the clock. He needs to get his hands on security, camera footage, something that will prove his client was in Houston and not in New Orleans at the time of the shooting. He no stores request over there. Videos on the regular so Bouygues tells his detective failure is not an option here right. We gotta have it well. Having this problem. I don't want to hear it. We had to have it and we had to get it quickly and they got it. Who would have in December something eight o clock in the evening we ve got the media security camera footage from multiple. Doors and Houston Joseph Allen had been arrested, based on the word of a single eye. Witness now both Shea had proof that Alan couldn't possibly be one of the Bunny friend shooters a legal aid. In the whole. So now I'm not relying on a guy's got a record or his wife was gonna quote
according to the d, a lie and say whatever needs to be said for paper receipts that don't show across card that they will argue our fabrications. Now I gotta hear Oshea shows that the court, the next day for Alan's hearing he's ready to go he's got his video. He figures the day will charge Alan and it's a pretty informed hunch, because Bush I used to work for the district attorney's office. This administration, I mean. Basically, they charge everything You know we know that the deal It is aggressive. He, except almost every case the police bring his office around ninety percent of the cases. So what happened? Next, with surprising, the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, stood up and said at this time the state dismisses all charges against Joseph Alan Kaboom, and that was it, but both shade didn't quite
trust that the dossier was done with Alan, so we tried the case on the streets city. We wanted the public. To see with their own eyes what we had seen with our own eyes. Sailboat Shea set up a tv on the courthouse steps and the news cameras followed. Here's new Orleans, W Ds Une is right. Now we are actually looking at video of Joseph Balin and his wife yeah when they were in Houston taxes on the day of the shooting civilians. Video shows they were shopping. Joseph Alan's mother had been on tv before defending her son took the MIKE. I saw Thankful set a date for the drop in these charges. Governor told them. I wasn't there. Then people follow with ninety strategy He was not there It was a huge relief for Joseph Valentines. Family
that whole saga of Alan, his loyal shea and the video footage. All of that was the last straw for someone else. A guy named Darwin bunting. A responsible for defending everyone in the world whose too poor to afford a lawyer when Darwins Joseph Valid go free. It made him, rethink his job and his role in the justice system. He knew he had to do something big Egypt. W W and in New Orleans. That's right. We have to he's on this episode takes a story from here that video footage of Joseph Alan played on the courthouse steps was all over the news. Darwin button couldn't help a watch. The chief public defender food Orleans perish in Louisiana parishes what we call a county, basically hell. Have you had this job? I have had the
Job now for seven years feels like how many years a joke with my friends, it's like dog is Darwin leads a team of fifty or so lawyers who defend poor people in New Orleans, pretty everyone arrested is poor. The office had twenty thousand cases. Last year, for a guy was so much responsibility. Darwin tall com, always in a suit, has an easy laughed too like. When I ask if I can watch a case in court, he points to my microphone I can't let you bring that alliance. I have no illusions about that, as has been made very clear that there is no recording in any way be Sienna Cortland, no recording in court, which makes this whole story more difficult to tell you, because we're about to dive into the world of Louisiana court system. So what you
here is the court room drama where public defenders face off against district attorney's. The prosecution public defenders are there to uphold the six amendments. You know that whole you have a right to an attorney If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you, but Darwin says that hard to do for his thousands of clients, because his budget kept getting cut. Two thousand eleven, two thousand twelve, two thousand thirteen, two thousand fourteen. Unlike ok, this They trend he's had a fire lawyers that means ever When left gets more cases, often they barely get to meet with clients. Much less higher private investigators to chase evidence serving applaud your best when you are handling cases twice over the national standard. Here's how the mass shootings Bunny Friend Park fits in window.
Watch Joseph Alan, the man accused, go free. He thought what, if that man didn't hire a private attorney if he hadn't called Kevin Beauchamp. If he couldn't afford to pay a lawyer, Darwins Office would have defended the case when looked at that case, played out, and at the end of that case, I thought to myself. I'm not sure we would have made it to Houston on time. I'm not sure we would have made it to that footage before it was discarded or over written or a raised, as a lot of that footage is nowadays even though its out there and it doesn't remain forever and if you move slow than you're going to miss this very important evidence, Darwin said It would have been hard, maybe impossible for him or his public defenders to move as fast as private defence lawyer Kevin by Darwin thought. If he had to defend Joseph Alan didn't get that tape. That man would have been on trial for what would have been effectively his life based,
on the alibi is mom and the mother of his job, which would have immediately been discredited by the district attorney. Who spoke to love him. Of course, they're saying he wasn't there, but he actually wasn't there. This innocent man easily could have gone to jail for decades. It shook Darwin. This was January, twenty, sixteen Darwin called in all staff and made an announcement told my my leadership team. I told my staff we're not gonna, be complicit in that and that's when we made the decision. You know we were gonna start refusing cases not just the sort of weight loss, but we're going to say now. These are not artists. And to refuse cases some cases that need it. Lots of time and attention ones with high stakes, the robberies the murders allow the sex offences if his office doesn't have the time.
More resources to do it right. They won't take a case, especially those really serious cases, what they call level five safer. Ample a murder comes in, that would, What we call a level five case, then we'd have to go that's a level five lawyer, We don't have a level five lawyer with reminder on their caseload will refuse that text. Since January, his office has refused hundreds of cases to be sure they can't then the clients they do have better to me People wait then risk someone innocent going to jail, but refusing some cases is not the same as a strike. Darwin wants to be clear. The a strike. Does when you're not doing work, you can do to prove a point. This is work. We cannot constitutionally, ethically and professionally. Do this A strike,
We do off you started refusing cases they were consequences for one. Hundreds of people accused of serious crimes were left in limbo, with no legal representation which got it mention of the American Civil Liberties Union? We start a hearing that there were people who were going to be sitting in jail without the lawyers that they have. The constitutional right to have. From our standpoint, it doesn't matter why they're not getting lawyers there, not getting lawyers Office get sued and other rebel effects that's coming up on. Veal,
Therefore, investigative reporting in p r ex this is reveal analogy. We just met Darwin Buntin he's achieve public defender in New Orleans his office is there to defend anyone who can't afford a lawyer in New Orleans? That's almost everybody. Eighty five percent of all criminal cases, but the thing is Derwin's funding- has been cut every year for the past five years at the end of two thousand fifteen. He realized he couldn't do the job his office didn't have enough lawyers to defend the people, the needed them. So he took action. Darwin start refusing some cases leaving hundreds of people accused of crimes Jes stuck Some of them were waiting in jail for months and that's right. Lay the low point for me in this knowing that this
people on the other end of this as families on the other end of this looking for access to justice, but are not able to provide everybody with access to justice, and I know what that I know what that means. It means some people facing serious charges. I lived in limbo only will count Eve Show W W Eno found a guy like that. It was January Winder when started refusing cases that same month, this Man you're about to meet, was involved in situation with a woman who called the cops he was arrested. On charges of attempted second degree, rape and simple battery, he went to jail the arrest of ended his life through loser. That I have been a almost a year at those retail, and now That was actually a management he's You management job counted him as a no show. He hasn't been able to get steady work sense.
We're not using his real name because he's afraid is arrest record. My keep him for getting a new job, we'll call him John in jail. He also worried about his mom mom other suffers from domestic. I was also provide it was very stressful is wandering away at the moment that John and even know if anyone else in his family actually knew he was in jail. No public defender came to see John no one talk to him about his case or help contact family or his boss. The first time he talked to a lawyer was when he was brought to court for, what's called first appearances, there's a tiny booth in the courtroom where he spoke briefly with the public defender behind a plastic window, and we would like a five minute, the most common spaces amber, there's no recording in court, but here's what first appearances look like a group of inmates. Almost
always all black men stand in orange prison, jumpsuits shackled, the judge asked them each to stand and say out loud what they do for a living, how much they make who they take care of at home. The inmates mostly seem confused about why the judges asking these very personal questions, its uncomfortable, but what the judges doing is deciding whether there too poor to afford a lawyer and can get a public defender John remembers his edge, urging another guy to avoid the public defenders. Guy was enough for some more serious accusation. The guy- when they would afford a lawyer, and it. Like Adam says, you have to get your lawyer and in this case from this here that I knew and there were other defender. I wouldn't have anyone workers being able to spend time on my kids, Well, I don't want to spend on John spent about
the week in jail before his family scraped together, four thousand dollars to pay a bail bondsman, but once he got out John lost his spot with the public defenders. He didn't know this, but he was on the white list. People stuck waiting in jail where ahead of him, so he just waited for his court date. Without a lawyer. I did try to take a few lawyers to me and they raised by around ten thousand dollars at ten thousand, just to get started to get started, John didn't know what to expect in court. Should he, whereas Sunday best, would he even get to go home that day or with the court, decide to detain him and send him right back to jail as it ever got? Nothing happened. The judge said come back in thirty days, John Dead, then the judge said come back. If you get something in the mail,
then more. Nothing when I call John he hadn't heard anything in eight months I didn't know where the case was so really I'm kind, You live in that worryingly police. As I said in a body, any type of copper tasted does irregular iraqi whoop people. The state had dropped. The more serious tempted rape charge that was months ago in June. How did you find out that the charges were dropped? Actually do you? You confirm that drought, so no one ever told you what happened you just never her back. You never got a letter in the mail saying the charges were accepted, but you also never got anything thing that they were dropped, the other no one
told John the battery charge seems to have been kicked down to municipal court. John asked me what that met was he cleared? I didn't I'm not a lawyer all. I that was an email saying. The felony charge was dropped. Gabriela. Yes, sir, and what would allow everybody around me. I appreciate as rigid Sir John didn't know what was going on with his case. The public defenders office didn't know either because they drive use the case, no one was tracking it. We told Darwin button what his decision did to John Life. What should have happened? is. He would have been assigned a lawyer very early on and there of the status of his case at every change so and more formation for not just him before his family as well? This is the Standard Darwin wants to meet, but he says he just can't know time, not enough lawyer
before his family as well. This is the Standard Darwin wants to meet, but he says he just can't know time, not enough lawyers, hence the slow down and yeah. That means Some people wait longer or get no help at all. More and more of those families being touched by this, and I think, that's tragic and it it's really learned about the ME defenders, the rest of my staff, but this heavy conscience doesn't help the people waiting. When Louisiana Anna's American Civil Liberties Union learned about the public defenders. Wait list ace the lawyers lawyer Marjorie have the said not to have right after The hearing that there were people who were going to be sitting in jail without the lawyers that they have the constitutional right to have right after the weight was started, Esben file, the law suit, federal court on behalf of several men whose cases got refused and from our stand,
point, it doesn't matter. Why they're not getting lawyers there, not getting lawyers and what p, Well, don't always realise is that because of the sixth amendment constitutional right to council, if we can't defend, we all can't prosecute, because anybody who says I want a lawyer has the right to have a lawyer, and that means they can't be prosecuted in them this time in the courts is going to be massive people, those that any actually welcomes this lawsuit because it could our attention to what he sees as a deeply unfair system. Poor people, just as is the same as rich people, justice, and why does your lot from some stakeholders and decision makers on fighting for a cadillac system and poor people don't deserve a catalan criminal justice system don't deserve a Cadillac defence and all the people who say that have yet to define for me what that means:
I don't know what I'm asking for that extra. Darwin's, not jamming the gears, so he'll be able to offer a Cadillac defense. He says he's doing it to keep his office running to avoid a total. Breakdown of justice, all over the country. Public defenders are overburdened and there's no place worse than Louisiana lots of pay. She's here are in crisis. They have too many case. And not enough time. Yet this eggs are really high bill. Snowden is one of Darwins public defenders in New Orleans he's tall slender with a neatly trimmed beard. He works two blocks away from the court house in a dingy, florescent lit office building
So the the white list has been in a fortunate for me, but terrible for my clients are potential because I've been sitting in jail without a lawyer and professional standards is lawyer shouldn't take more than a hundred fifty felony cases a year before Darwin, slow down will had two hundred and fifty five felonies and twenty fifteen. That would give him about one business day to put together a defence for murder, rape or armed robbery. One business day I serve nightmares about my clients going to prison, because I fail to do something he's talking literal nightmares like wake up in the middle the night, like all, did I found this motion for this client, or did I do this her? You know the person is stating twenty years a life for nickel bag, a weed, Zephyr trial. What am I gonna do? How is this possible like what is going on. What can I do to stop it in the future legal We closing their eyes and sitting.
But your mind is racing in your thinking. Well did I do this? Did I do that and then you get mad at yourself for not doing certain thing. Will and a lot of public defenders here are driven by a mission, their offices, lake, the peace Corps for lawyers. We simply our locking up too many black people and that's what the reason I came to noise should be. A public defender on wheels Office was their pictures of him with former clients and in the corner, is clothing, rack full of suits for his client. To where the court so they're, not an orange jumpsuits wills been doing this three years. He says they used to be in the office seven days a week just trying to get through his cases. Things are better under the weight list, but he's troubled by all the people waiting right. If we're here to accept these cases. To represent these people and procedurally, were not allowed to do that. It is kind of questions your existence as a public debt NI also no experience a shame
This is not the goal of the slowdown. Would Darwin ultimately wants is reasonable case loads for his lawyers, like will end able to defend every one who needs their help for that he needs not just more money. He would actually need the entire system for how his office gets its money to change. Durban says: that's because the bulk of the funding public defence in Louisiana comes from a really weird source: its traffic tickets. Railway through stop and in schools on all this removing violations. There is a public defender fee. Attach me pay that ticket so right a red light and part of that money. You oh goes to pay a lawyer for saved someone accused of armed robbery. It's odd and announced Able you never know how many traffic tickets will get written each month. I ass Darwin, so why traffic tickets? He didn't know lots of people. I asked didn't know
We found a long time Louisiana lawyer, Walt Sanchez who knows over the phone. He expects in the Louisiana Legislature came up with this. In the seventies, the funding scheme was simply a path of least resistance. There wasn't any real in that thought put into. How did we come up with a stream of income that actually meets the needs? of the given ass. It was a punt away to fund an unpopular issue, lawyers for accused criminals and that funding was kind of left to traffic patterns. So if you had a parish said headache, batch interstate through it. You generally had a pretty reasonable level of funding or consistent stream of because a major highway means bore traffic tickets, no interstate, your poor people, don't get a strong defence if they get arrested so uneven, know some other states also use traffic chicken money to help pay for public defence
kind of an extra slush fund, but Louisiana uses traffic tickets as the main funding source and that causes chaos says James Dixon. He runs Louisiana State Public Defender Board in batten ruse. He points to this year's devastating floods as a perfect example than emergency shelter was set up right by his office when we talked any district that flooded this year is info, big problems, funding public defence. You have districts, their rely primarily on traffic tickets, for their funding. Flooding takes out equation. I no sheriff in his right mind or her right mine is going to emphasise traffic. Take us turn. It is a disaster,
I mean no citizen would expect into an I certainly doubt so. Traffic tickets are weren't plummet and every single one of those districts, so bad ruse, police, right fewer traffic tickets because their busy with more serious issues right after the flood and all of a sudden, the public defender sees a drop in money can afford to pay an expert. Witness can't hire a private investigator can't work up as strong a case for a client here's another problem. When Louisiana created this system, it also created a public defender fee, Darwin Button hates that so, if your beamed eligible for friend his office. The first thing is, you owe me: forty dollars, desert application Fee we just saw guy in the lobby trying to pay that forty dollars now once we have the case and we carry it through resolution, if you're found guilty or you plead guilty, then you owe us another forty five dollars: that's the public defence
if you're guilty, you pay forty five dollars for your lawyer. If you walk free, you owe nothing. If you pay attention to that, folks quickly realized we get paid to lose, because if we get your case dismissed or your quitted, the office received nothing if you found guilty or plead guilty receive another. Forty
five dollars. Public defenders have told me they get clients who look them in the eye and say you are paid to lose James Dixon says that's awful. That is eight, that is it a horrible optic. I mean I can t a poem defenders. It does not affect how they work at all, but the problem is there is a grain of truth behind it, and that makes it very difficult to deal with a client and when, when a defender has trouble communicate with his client, everybody suffers, and I mean everybody it under cuts. The court it unaccustomed credibility of the court because their scene is just being part of a process, it is just a horrible horrible way to fund a public defence system. Public defenders in Louisiana want a baseline of stable, guaranteed funding. No more. This user pay system where guilty Verde get them more money, and there
ability to do their jobs well depends on how many people get caught, speeding Darwin slow down in New Orleans is causing problems getting attention. But in a state with a looming, one point: seven billion dollar budget gap, where even schools and hospitals or on the chopping blue, getting extra millions to defend people accused of crimes seems a long shot. in the public defenders are not funded nearly as well as the police, the courts in district attorney's. That means, when public defenders show up in court. They're. Always the underdogs coming up next,
The prosecution ways in I can't see myself If the shoe was reversed, I can't see myself saying to the citizens of the city of New Orleans: listen we're not going to be able to profit the case that a victim brings to us, or some police officer brings to us, because we just don't think we have the funding to effectively prosecute the case. I cannot, in all fairness. I cannot lead budget constraints affect my ability to operate this office. Your listening to deal. From the outset, four investigative reporting and p r eggs. This is reveal analysis. We ve been tell the story of New Orleans chief Public Defender Darwin Funding after mass shooting in the world's two thousand fifteen, the Bunny friend part shooting
Darwin realized something big. Seventeen people were shot at night, wrong man was accused, but I've lawyer found evidence that freedom Darwin realized his office might not have been able to prove that means innocence. They were simply two overloaded, so dirt made moves to lighten the load. His office started, refusing cases back in the corridor, leaving some clients waiting in jail. We're gonna pick up the story with the prosecutor, not just of the Bunny friend case, but if every case in Orleans perish here's independent producers need Abrams New Orleans District attorney Leon can a look straight out of central casting from lawn order, crisp white shirt tie neat and tucked also very old school. He answered many of my question like this yes MA am. I do. I have no objection. Certainly, I want them to have the Knesset
refunding the ten zero has been watching from the other side of the Quorum ever since Darwin Button started. Refusing cases remember Darwins argument is that the public defenders don't get enough money to provide all their clients with a constitutional defence, but Cannas arrows not buying it. Will I disagree with that. I think that they, they certainly have been extremely effective in their court room, and I know because we have to do battle with them on a daily basis. No matter how effective Darwin's attorneys are, their budget is way smaller than the DA's last year, around six million to the DA's twelve million. That's not exactly apples to apples, though the DA's office does a lot more stuff than just argue court cases and Canas era says he needs more money to. In fact, his budget for next
Air was just cut in the criminal justice system, especially in the city of New Orleans. All of the participants in the criminal justice system are woefully under funded, which is true, but its especially bad for the public defenders. In order to do public defence Right Derwent told me, needs to double its funding. If you ve ever been to a court house, you ve probably seen a statue of Lady justice she's that Greek goddess looking and the one blindfolded and holding a scale she's meant to symbolise the balance and our judicial system. The true that emerges when opposing sides are equally matched. If Canada was funding was ever as unstable as Darwin's Would you do it. Darwin did with he ever refuse to prosecute cases. Do you have to think about always their space in the budget?
Or is that not something that you really think about? I can't see myself if if the shoe was reversed, I can't see myself saying the citizens of the city of New Orleans. Listen we're not going to be able to prosecute the case that a victim brings to us or some police officer brings to us, because we just don't think we have the funding to effectively prosecute the case. I cannot, in all fairness, I cannot lead budget constraints, affect my ability to operate this office and in the case of the bunny
and shooting he didn't when it came to investigating their first suspect. The guy we heard about earlier the DE didn't let budget constraints get in the way, can a zero used. His resources has investigators and remember that security camera footage. Well, the DA's investigators found that too, it proved the suspect was in another city at the time of the shooting, and that's why the dear says they never pressed charges, but in the weeks that followed, the district attorney went on to charge ten other people in the shooting. Four of those people got their lawyers through the public, the funders office it's late summer and amend Will Snowden Office, the public defender who had nightmares about his caseload. He's now representing one of the Bunny friend defendants Malik Johnson, who faces a charges,
during a gun, among others, the police arrest Emily, because another defendants said the was a bunny friend, the knight of the shooting and identified the from a photo line of Molly a little hard to reach because she's not in the New Orleans jail he's energy, in the North eastern corner of the state. Next Arkansas I see the money William Snowden from the Orleans public Defenders office? I had scheduled a attorneys. Quiet phoned visitation today with my climber league Johnson at two p m, or he added they get their word your backs. It affects yesterday to three one: eight, five, five Moluccas move from New Orleans because of issues with the city jail, which has been under a federal consent, decreased since two thousand and thirteen meaning there were so many problems in the jail, poor, mental health care and made violence, and
and make death that the Department of Justice stepped in well says still all the time his clients tell him how violent the jail is and about all the weapons shakes, Shoes and knives, and the terror is very, very real, is very palpable and I've got It is a lesson we may get one hour outside of ourselves: the shower. Do what to do. Go back because more, it's more safe to reduce the number of people behind bars, a brand new, much smaller jail opened in the fall of two thousand and fifteen, but the sheriff claims it's too small, so he's moved hundreds of people, like my leak, horror awaiting trial in Orleans, Paris to jails in other parts of the state, thank you for calling the river, then Detention Centre for English Thorn Hundreds of defendants are now being held hours and hours away from their families and their attorneys several of wills. Clients are, for
we're and a half hours away in EAST Carol perish, which means we can see them. I'm not gonna drive to these curl perish. I haven't two thousand one mercury's able and I need to change the bricks hunt home. I'm just not going to do that. Drive you can't will have to be in court in New Orleans every week day visiting just one client in EAST Carol. Would take her round nine hours round trip just with driving. So to get to know those clients will has to call them on the phone, but that brings up a whole. Other problem will as ensure who else is listening, because the problem that happens in the beginning, he knows that the calls going to be required. And that prompt gonna happen. Toby every five minutes, you'll get a reminder of the conversation that cause be reported was talking about the new world jail here and the person he is worried.
Be listening is the day they have pretty much unfettered access to those calls and the now listen to them to see. You have taken on anything that useful because she was clients in east Carol. Paris aren't supposed to be recorded, but will doesn't trust that no one's listening, but still in order to speak with my leg. It's the only option after four phone calls and two different kinds of hold music. I beg you will finally gets through to his client timely. How does your lawyer Williams noted a good hour? You Moluccas, seventeen when he was arrested, he's eighteen now he's been in jail for over ten months, waiting for
trial. Ten months is heard. It is ready to go out in the flower will says when you have a client as young as bleak, even though he is legally considered an adult. He still very much a kid, so we'll got in touch with his mom and he went back to Bunny Friend Park together evidence from a week's defence, the picture, the basketball for support for the bathroom scoreboard, so that I can get it
understanding when the detective is testifying. I know what you're talking about and if he's saying that this witness saw this particular individual at this location, I'm gonna, be others say that possible or not will says preparing for a case is an infinite task. There's always more to do motions to file cases to brush up on detectives to subpoena school records. To look at an endless people to interview, I asked Molly how he feels about his lawyer he's about his business. What does that mean? I mean you forest focus on UK gayer. I desired legal Melick used to think public defenders worked with the prosecutors, didn't care about defending clients like him, but now having will represent him
my leaks, entire picture of public defenders has changed. I fear there are regular paid lawyer. Is that what you sound like a lawyer, you would hire not get for free. This is how the public defence system is supposed to work with public defenders who have the time to do just as good a job as private attorneys. It's what Darwin slowdown is all about providing clients with a solid defence, no matter how much it comes up the works, but in a lot of places, that's not what happens according to ill Hamas Thea. She see executive director of Gideon, promise and national organization that supports public defenders out of Atlanta Georgia. What we have found across the country is that, although people go into the work to help people, they quickly are burnt out.
Or tired, or are so under resource that they leave the job or fall victim to processing people through the system in that effectively advocating for their clients, processing people through the system and other keeping the system going, barely meaning with clients resolving their cases as quickly as I all and then moving on to the next. Most public defenders can't escape this pressure to keep things moving, and so what happens is clients? arrested. They may sit in jail, trying to make bond and many others. Science cannot in they want to go home, and so a person could be not guilty of the crime there queues but knowing that they will sit in languish in jail, possibly losing their job, losing the right so their children losing subsidize housing, they stay any longer, and so what often happens is that they take. Please please deals even if their innocent, they plead guilty and in exchange, get
their sentence or avoid jail entirely. National play around. Ninety five percent of criminal convictions come from plea deals. Just last month the district attorney's office offered a one time pleaded to several defendants and the bunny. Case, including the leak here's the deal the day offered he's guilty to unlawfully discharging a firearm and the other seven charges against. You will be dismissed, it was an intense decision. Relief was able to sit in the courtroom with his family to discuss at the other. Nine defendants were sitting there too. With their lawyers. At one point: people, started yelling at each other Molly Family was worried that other defendants would start pointing the finger at my leak in order to get better deals for themselves
will wanted to fight for his client. He had a plan for how to defend the legal trial, but that would be risky if they live Wolf Asthma. We could end up in prison for anywhere between ten and forty seven years Freedom of belief would know exactly how many years he would serve with us. The whole family was torn up about it. A leak was crying This man was crying his brothers and sisters were crying. Molly did not want to take the plea that his mom begged him to in the end he took it The sentence is ten years with credit for time already served in the best possible situation, help be out and is a matter to you if they find the right people and they got it
they go all the way. I feel you know, I'm fine recover. I just moved on one part of it. Just let it go and does it matter to use they find the right people He said. No, I just let it go all the way I see it. You know doing they saw, I just moved on I don't want you like parts of it. I just let it and isn't to use they find the right people and and and they go to jail, nor better, because they're still be valued, killing gonna keep seeing you doin they, so you take it away for five people in the rest of the city's few people really down. In her mind, locking people up doesn't change how violent New Orleans is, nor does it help or have more faith in the system. Chief public defender, Durham, Button says he hears this all the time shaped. Darwin says: that's all he wants
over the years they The slowdown was his last resort, a choice. It took him seven years to make after trying everything else it's that idea. That is simply not going to get a fair shaped. Darwin says: that's all. He wants a fair shake for his clients. The slowdown was his last resort, a choice. It took him seven years to make after trying everything else, overloading his staff arguing for different funding and watch year after year, as his budget kept getting smaller and smaller. How does it way on you, knowing that they're all these people now who are without a public defender, because there on a white list, a terrible, it's one of those things that ways on me and my staff every day and we think about and keep track of everyday folks on the white list. And I like, how long are you gonna hello, like a year,
two years you know, I think we'd better, we're going to move forward constitutionally, ethically and professionally. So we're gonna stay inside those boundaries. We are simply not, going to play this role of blood, thing, a an unjust system. So for the foreseeable future. Darwin is going to continue refusing cases until something really changes. He knows he's putting pressure on the courts and the legislature and worst of all, poor people waiting in jail. At attorneys, but Durban is forcing the issue he's forcing people to look at what it would truly cost to properly offend all the people we arrest Louisiana locks up more of its citizens per capita than any other place in the world and defending all those people properly. According to the constant
mission is expensive right now. Most people don't see those costs right now the rubber hits the road in courts and jails places most people avoid given the option so Darwin is going to keep loudly pointing at the price tag and maybe That's the best way to get everyone's attention to provide them with a healthy amount of sticker shock as we wrap it up, the supporting the city of New Orleans gave the public defenders a little bit more money for next year's budget. It will help them replied. Some of the thirty seven staff members let go since last year, including experienced attorneys, but it's just a one time: Meanwhile, that a you lawsuit against her off his still dragging on a federal judge will rule on it for money.
And when that ruling comes down, it will only say whether its illegal for Louisiana inmates to sit in jail with out a lawyer. It won't solve the public defender budget crisis, but, however, it turns out the lawsuit will keep the spotlight on public defence, and Maybe- be illuminating path to fully funding it someday thanks to independent producer Eve, Abrams and Eve Trow of W W and no one New Orleans for this episode and had Eve. Abrams also has our own podcast on criminal justice. In New Orleans it's called unpleasant. You have to check it out. I will definitely be tuning in our show was edited by loss or chaskey special thanks to cure a sword, Nandi Campbell and John add cock.
That's the one to think, though you each. Why? Why of Philadelphia for production support for this week show are sound. Design is wonder: twins, plummet, J Breathing, Mr Jim Briggs and Clear Signal Mullen bared help this week from Peter COM. Vanessa low are headed studios, Christa Sharpsburg Amy Power, as our editor in Chief Suzanne, rivers are executive, editor and our executive producer is Kevin. Solving our theme, music is by camaraderie lightning support for reveals provided by the river in David Logan Foundation, the Ford founded the John D and Catherine Team, Macarthur Foundation, the genus and James Elles. I'd foundation and the ethics of excellence in journalism foundation reveals a co production of the centre for vessel reporting in p r x amount. And remember. There is always more to the story
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-21.