How Tax Reform Might Work For The Justice System

Introduction

 

USA (PT) – A reform in tax law is not just necessary, I would argue that it is imminent. There are massive amounts of people from all walks of life that believe our tax laws work only for high rank government employees, and the special interest companies they collaborate with. While that is about the sum of things, it’s not the only way. This article will outline how a justice system where you may opt out of taxpayer facilities, such as the local public defense office for a private organization allotted the same funding your public defender would have gotten… Might actually work in favor of the people as defendants in cases, and even help to lower false conviction rates.

 

I’m no stranger to the system. I’ve been on the opposite end of a few court proceedings, and it’s not fun or easy to deal with. In fact, just understanding the language and terminology utilized by criminal justice/law professionals takes years to master. Hence why we as the middle, and lower class must outsource and pay expensive fees to these professionals to help navigate a courtroom scenario. And there are numerous flaws. Think for a second where the money flows from? You, as citizens. Then think about yourself in a court proceeding that you are completely innocent on. The officer that jailed you, the public defender that speaks for you, the district attorney that fights for the system against you, and the judge that carries out the ultimate sentence, even the jury that may decide the fate for the judge (who still gets paid) all are paid for by you. However, you get very little say in how that money is spent.  

Now, I want to stress here immediately that most attorneys get their start within the public defender’s office. After a few years, if criminal justice is their position of choice, they eventually move to a firm, or start their own private practice. Moving forward, I want you to realize that I acknowledge that these truths exist. As such, my aim is not to debate a capitalist society. My aim to help you understand how a minor change in your choice before even an arraignment hearing takes place, could mean all the difference in your case.

The Problem

 

In a 2014 article; Do Private Attorneys Get Better Plea Deals Than Public Defenders

Attorney Matt McClenahen sums up the scenario that public defenders, and attorneys see frequently in proceedings;

“It was not until several years in private practice that I finally discovered why private attorneys tend to perform better in plea negotiations than public defenders, and I can tell you it has nothing to do with prosecutors feeling sorry for defendants who shelled out money for their own defense. It comes down to several factors, several of which involve basic psychology and group dynamics. In many counties, public defenders are in a constant state of war with the DA’s Office. They are constantly in trial, because they represent a lot of defendants whose only viable option is to go to trial. Public defenders must also constantly litigate pre-trial motions and take appeals to the Superior Court. All of these battles can cause prosecutors to resent public defenders, even though they are just doing their jobs. And if a public defender consistently wins at trial, as I did, the resentment is even stronger.

Prosecutors see themselves as the good guys. If they lose a trial, then the criminal justice system failed. Also, trial lawyers have competitive personalities, and it is a blow to one’s pride to lose. So if I won three or four trials in a row as a public defender, the prosecutors I tried these cases against were not exactly in the mood to extend generous plea deals. The next time they had a case where my client had no viable defense, they would make a harsh offer and refuse to back off. Conversely, if it was clear I had a chance to win at trial, then I would obtain favorable plea deals because the Commonwealth did not want to lose at trial. Yet as a public defender, I could rarely get good plea offers based upon mitigating factors related to my client.”

Matt defines mitigating factors; “Mitigating factors are anything, which make a crime “less bad” than a generic version of the same crime or make a defendant “less bad” than a generic version of a defendant charged with the same crime.”

So, let’s take the scenario I mentioned at the beginning, and enhance on it. You are an impoverished person, falsely accused of a serious crime. You don’t have the money for a private attorney, so the one appointed to you must suffice. The public defender you are appointed has a long-standing quarrel with the district attorney’s office. The police officer has filed a false report that does not reflect the facts. The district attorney rarely ever deviates from the police reports, photos, and other evidence submitted. But the Judge, should remain unbiased? You can see how this scenario is deeply against you, as the defendant. Basically, the justice system today takes your word over the police. We all know that police are capable of crimes, and falsifying crimes.

 

The ACLU has brought lawsuits against counties in multiple different states regarding a public defense crisis. Just recently in New Orleans;

“In the past year, cuts in state-appropriated funding, combined with a decline in revenue from local fees, have affected how those district offices can represent the poor. So far, four Louisiana parishes, including Orleans, have established waitlists for the indigent.”

The same thing happened to Fresno County, CA;

“Because public defenders do not receive the resources necessary to represent their clients, thousands of Fresno County residents are forced to navigate the criminal justice system without the adequate legal representation that is guaranteed by the Constitution.”

My own experiences have not been any better than the above. We live in a country where the law for all clearly states; Innocent, until proven guilty. But the fact, is that many people in law enforcement as well as lawyers, judges, and advisers are just doing their job. People make errors or worse and If you are implicated in a crime, even completely innocent, you still get taken to jail. Booking is not a fun process, and access to the outside world from a detention facility is sometimes extremely difficult. More often than not, you need to reach deeper into your pocket to post bail. This way you can contact a lawyer you feel could be competent for your case… What if this lawyer could get the same money you paid into the system? Instead of you going through the jail process, and seeing your public defender minutes before your actual hearing, what if you could give a private attorney that money?

Hammer, from pixabay.com

A Proposal

 

The fix to our broken justice system we should start with local municipalities, rather than a sweeping broad nationwide event. Even though, one could argue that with change of this nature to local governing, the change would likely find it’s way to the supreme court rather quickly. The emphasis I want to place here though, is on local individuals petitioning change. Now, as an anarchist, I rarely endorse petitioning the government (local or otherwise) for change. I’m going to make this distinction; I’m not petitioning the government here, I’m petitioning you. As the reader, if you’ve come this far… I’m talking to you. You are the individual that needs to start in your area to bring this concept to the local justices of the peace.

Taxation is theft, but let’s all be real here. Even the more hardcore of dissidents comply in order to avoid the courtroom scenario. Paying into the system is cheaper than paying to fight it.

I personally see flaws in a completely privatized system and replacing a flawed system, with another flawed system is not my aim. But let’s be real here… The tax money you’re currently placing into our flawed system is not even being used in your favor. If you had the choice between a lawyer you trusted getting money that you paid into the system, or a public defender that won’t talk to you until 5 minutes before the proceeding… Which would you choose?