Governor Patrick’s proposal to dismantle the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) and move the constitutionally mandated defense of indigent Massachusetts residents into the executive branch is poorly thought out. This proposal is at least a moral violation of the separation of powers conceived by John Adams. John Adams developed the doctrine of separation of powers to protect the ordinary citizen against abuses of power by an over-strong executive such as King George. If Governor Patrick consolidates everything he is seeking to consolidate into the executive, the Judicial branch will be eviscerated and judicial independence and separation of powers will become a sham and a mere illusion.
Further, the proposal does not address the civil cases, or the reason that civil case costs which were once about 1/2 are now about 1/5. Hint – Commissioner Angelo McClain is doing something right in reducing case load. It is DCF case load that drives the cost of representation pursuant to G.L.c.119 – not attorneys!
Legislation via the budget is a throwback, and not the kind of thoughtful, progressive, compassionate approach I expected from Governor Deval Patrick.
The reality is that those attorneys such as myself who make indigent defense part of their practice float loans to the commonwealth, and will never cost the taxpayer a pension. The proposal by Patrick underestimates, minimizes, and does not shed true light and air on the real cost and perhaps – not on the real reason for his proposal.
Further, many attorneys would have to layoff staff if their income decreases suddenly. My own “ballpark estimate” is that if Governor Patrick’s proposal is enacted, it will lead to a loss of at least 1000 private jobs and as many as 500 bankruptcies.