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April 12, 2006

Lawyers: Moonlighting as pizza delivery boy = bad idea.

A few weeks ago Arbitrary and Capricious reported on a Missouri public defender who wasn't making enough money to pay his loans as a PD so he took a second job delivering pizzas and ran into a really awkward situation:

One night, he tucked a hot pizza under his arm, drove to a customer's home and rang the bell. When the door opened, there stood one of the defendants he'd been assigned to represent in court.

“The guy's mother called us and was very upset,” said Cathy R. Kelly, director of training and communications for the Missouri Public Defender's Training Division. “She said she wanted her son to have a real lawyer, not a pizza guy.”

Although that's a bit funny, it's also sad. The rest of the article details some of the other problems with MO's system of indigent defense. Like too many states, MO appears to be at risk of failing in its Constitutional duty to provide quality defense to the indigent accused. According to this story, the “cumulative turnover rate” for public defenders in Missouri since October 2005 is 100%. Yikes.

I'm posting this now b/c I had written it weeks ago and just never hit “publish,” but I was reminded of it b/c a Deputy Public Defender from Missouri emailed me recently to ask me to correct an error in this post about the contract public defender who was threatened w/having his contract cancelled if he took a certain case that one of his county employers didn't like. I said that this was happening in Missouri; it was actually in Mississippi. I have corrected the error and I apologize for it. I hope the Missouri legislature will wake up soon and give its hardworking public defenders the resources they need to do their jobs.

Posted April 12, 2006 12:40 PM | crimlaw

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It is sad, but I did laugh.

Posted by: J. Morgan at April 12, 2006 04:02 PM

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