Today on “This Week” Governor Patrick said that in Massachusetts we solve our budget problems by “turning to” each other not “turning on” each other. At the Roundtable Governor Patrick made his comment about turning to each other not on each other
As a member of the court-appointed legal community, I feel turned ON not turned TO – no one asked ME for cost saving, or told ME in advance that there was no value or trust in what I do as a court appointed attorney in the child welfare system.
?Why didn’t Gov. Patrick turn TO the court-appointed legal community rather than turning on us?
Was it because Gov. Patrick bought into propaganda from the District Attorney’s PR campaign? Remember, I wrote a letter published in the Globe about why the plan being pushed by District Attorneys to move to an all staff system was based on bad math and deliberate distortion. Of course, what a District Attorney says that if everyone were represented by staff, on both sides, cases would be “processed” more easily, it is clear that “innocent until proven guilty” is not the goal. It may be the attack from the DAs shows that an independent defense bar fights back harder then DAs like.
I remember how shocked I was on Sunday, January 23rd when my phone rang and it was Andrea Estes from the Boston Globe wanting to interview me because Governor Deval Patrick wanted to do away with private bar advocates, you know, independent small business people, representing defendants in our privatized system. That led to this Globe article that Governor Patrick bought into the DAs pitch.
Maybe, instead, Gov. Patrick should turn on the DAs, and consolidate the prosecutorial function under AG Coakley, and let her set up regional offices and move staff where needed. We no longer have counties (mostly). Why should there be 11 county DAs earning more than the AG, or nearly as much as the Attorney General – each with two to six full time “press flacks” who contribute nothing to prosecution and earn 100k or more? Further, why should taxpayers pay 2.6 million for the Massachusetts District Attorney Association – it does no prosecution, is a lobbying organization with over tones of countryclub. If the Governor wants to consolidate agencies, the District Attorneys surely could be consolidated – why do we have 11 of them in this day and age?
But no, I don;’t feel that in dealing with the cost of indigent defense Massachusetts turned “to each other”. I was turned ON.
If only when the rates were raised by Chapter 54 of the Acts of 2005 the commissions that were supposed to pay for the rate increase had been appointed!
Instead, neither Gov. Romney or Gov. Patrick appointed the commission on indigency verification (did I tell you indigency verification is still largely don’t ask don’t tell, and doesn’t access a single data base, not even DOR?) or reclassification/diversion of non violent offenses was supposed to get a commission too -did not happen. So the rates went up, indigency determination stayed a sloppy old fashioned mess, and case load did not get trimmed.
Did the executive take responsibility for failing to appoint those commissions? NO. Instead, the executive blamed the independent contractors who shoulder the work of representing indigent people per statute, in both criminal and mandated civil matters like child welfare and guardianships of the indigent incompetent. I am very, very disappointed personally.