Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Is the Prosecution Playing with Loaded Dice?

The Julie Amero case will be looked upon as a milestone in judicial history. The court system and lawmakers can no longer bury their heads in the sand when it comes to ubiquitous, open communication. And individuals must once again assume responsibility for managing their own moral concerns.

But the Julie Amero case also reminds us of how badly our justice system as deteriorated. A few days ago, I posted a blog that lamented the lack of pro bono lawyers who offered their services in the name of social justice causes. In the subsequent days I was educated as to the process that pro bono lawyers follow in offering their services to a client.

A key necessity for lawyers is the transcript of the trial proceedings. With a transcript in hand the lawyer can evaluate the worthiness of a case and petition to offer services based on their belief of the issues.

But the State of Connecticut seems to be maliciously slow in making these transcripts available. The by-product of this inexcusable phenomenon is that it is often too late for pro bono services to aid defendants who can benefit from them.

Secondly, trial transcriptions which are delayed can nullify the chances of receiving pro bono assistance and defendants can suffer double jeopardy in the form of stiffer and more damning sentences that later work to reinforce the guilty claim.

This imbalance may be subverting justice in even the most pedestrian of cases. And it is inexcusable. Computers and transcription systems are available that can remediate this situation. Connecticut needs to take a good, hard look at how justice is dispensed because the system looks to be unfairly administered in favor of prosecution. If such a bias holds true then we must stop teaching our children that we believe in fairness because we are not practicing it in the process.

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