Speaking of a statement of values — it looks like the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Independent lawyers who represent the indigent — like AmberPaw — had been getting stiffed by the state, waiting to be paid for months. She posted here about it. Think about it: You give your life to representing the poor and vulnerable — only to be taken advantage by the state itself.
Deborah Sirotkin Butler said her clients have included a 5-month-old boy taken from his mother after she suffered an epileptic seizure in a courthouse hallway and a 13-year-old girl who needed a legal guardian after she witnessed her mother’s murder.
“The cases that we do can be life and death,” said Butler, who runs her practice out of a home office in Arlington. “This area of the law is almost like a vocation and you don’t get respected for that. I put up with it because I can see the pain in the face of a kid who wants to be back with their parent.”
Butler said the state owes her between $4,000 and $4,500.
“It’s not a small amount of money for a 69-year-old widow who has to pay for a mortgage in Arlington . . . and still has kids’ college loans to pay down,” she said.
… And hey presto, the Legislature snaps out of it, pays the lawyers what they’re owed, and creates a reserve fund for next year. Is this enough? I’ll let our resident advocates determine that.
As Jamie Eldridge just posted, a budget is a statement of values. You’ve got to value the most vulnerable — and if they’re going to get justice, they need legal representation. This is not optional, it’s not an afterthought. Our concern needs to start with the poor, the dislocated, the folks that need help. Start there.