Letters to the Editor

Letters: Indigent defense

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Letters to the Editor

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Regarding “Defendant’s Choice,” June,  as someone who once had the job of appointing counsel of the public defender’s office to various indigent clients, the criteria was the attorneys’ caseloads and the gravity of each and the types of cases. We were trying to spread the attorneys between all criminal courtrooms, factoring in the experience of each attorney and each attorney’s strength. The office of the public defender should continue to appoint the indigents’ counsel and leave the court to appoint counsel when there appears to be a conflict.

We had one lawyer who looked like Abraham Lincoln, and every one of the alleged criminals wanted him. And as we well know, everyone cannot have Abe.

Kathy Dills
Memphis, Tennessee


Regarding “Ghostwriting Controversy,” June, I am on the fence as to whether this is ethical and a good practice. On the one hand, I agree that ghostwriting can help pro se litigants assert rights and arguments they may otherwise be unaware of. However, what happens when the pro se is asked to make an argument based on the ghostwritten document? If the pro se doesn’t know what his/her own document means, the judge is put in a predicament where he is tempted to assume what the arguments might be. The alternative is to disregard anything but the plain meaning of the document, which can also be problematic. This may cross a line into judicial advocacy. Further, for an argument to be effective and genuine, it should be understood by the person presenting it.

Tony Frank
St. Charles, Illinois

Attorney ghostwriting is bad, but worse is a pro se who does not make relevant arguments. In Los Angeles, there are self-help programs for pro se in family law that assist in writing and editing the forms. The clerks who assist are actual family law paralegals and do a good job of helping low-income people get divorced.

Michael E. Friedman
Hacienda Heights, California

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