UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Tue, 12 Sep 2006 16:11:20

I’ve decided to take a break from my new career as a tabloid blogger and take a brief look at some recent reforms made to the Orleans Parish Indigent Defender Program (IDP.) There was an article in today’s Picayune about the culture clash between new IDP honcho Steve Singer and Judge Terry Alarcon. Singer is an academic (Loyola Law) who is attempting to implement his ideas in the rough and tumble of the real world. The Judges aren’t very happy thus far and with good reason: the reforms have had unintended consequences  6 of the most experienced defenders have quit. Why? The IDP is no longer allowing defenders to work part-time. In the abstract this sounds like a good thing but in the real world it has led to the resignation of 2 experienced lawyers who handle capital cases. It would have been wiser to phase in the reforms and to grandfather in people like Robert Jenkins who is one of the ablest criminal law practicioners in the South.

I must confess that turning over the IDP to academics gives me pause. Singer does have some real world trial experience but he’s mostly motivated by a crusading spirit. Let’s hope he doesn’t get worn down by the day to day grind of dealing with incompetent ADAs cranky judges and lying clients. The system clearly needed reforming pre-K I only hope the new IDP board and their lawyers have staying power. The criminal justice system has a way of  turning idealists into cynics. It will be interesting to watch.

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