Coming to the Defense of the Dallas County Public Defender
On Tuesday, Dallas County Chief Public Defender Brad Lollar resigned -- right about the time he was being forced out by Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who claimed Lollar wasn't very good at his job -- wasting money, wasting time. From jump, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast has questioned Price's reasoning and his methods, which just might lead to massive amounts of firings in the PD office. Yesterday, Henson wrote about how Dallas's PD office is actually more fiscally efficient than Tarrant County's, and today he writes that Price's "threat to fire large numbers of lawyers, slash the PD office budget or even eliminate it entirely" couldn't come at a worse time, pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision that will affect the point at which attorneys are assigned to cases.
Also worth a read: this 2005 Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense feasibility study that took a good, long look at Dallas, among other cities' public defender offices, and came to this conclusion: "In both misdemeanor and felony courts, where judges rely more heavily on public defenders for indigent defense, costs per case are substantially lower. Conversely, costs per case are highest where courts choose not to use public defenders." --Robert Wilonsky