Monday, November 10, 2008
The district attorney and the head of the group that pushed Massachusetts voters to overwhelmingly back a huge reduction in the penalty for marijuana possession don’t agree on a lot of things.
One thing on which they do agree: Voters bought the argument that kids and adults caught with marijuana are unfairly burdened under the present law, which can saddle them with a criminal record for the rest of their lives.
Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating said that perception is, in fact, a myth, no matter what voters believed. Most first-time offenders, he said, have their cases dismissed before arraignment.
MIAMI — Public defenders’ offices in at least seven states are refusing to take on new cases or have sued to limit them, citing overwhelming workloads that they say undermine the constitutional right to counsel for the poor.
Public defenders are notoriously overworked, and their turnover is high and their pay low. But now, in the most open revolt by public defenders in memory, many of the government-appointed lawyers say that state budget cuts and rising caseloads have pushed them to the breaking point.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Charles Ogletree is the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Institute. In addition, Professor Ogletree serves Harvard Law School as the Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice as well as Director of the Trial Advocacy Workshop and Saturday School Program. Professor Ogletree is a prominent legal theorist who has made an international reputation by taking a hard look at complex issues of law and by working to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution for everyone equally under the law. Professor Ogletree has examined these issues not only in the classroom, on the Internet and in the pages of prestigious law journals, but also in the everyday world of the public defender in the courtroom and in public television forums where these issues can be dramatically revealed. Armed with an arsenal of facts, Charles Ogletree presents and discusses the challenges that face our justice system and its attempt to deliver equal treatment to all our citizens. He furthers dialogue by insisting that the justice system protect rights guaranteed to those citizens by law.