Many people know about the deplorable condition of our criminal justice system. It was dysfunctional before Katrina hit, and then ‘dys’ became ‘non.’ The public defender’s office lost most of its 40+ staff (which were completely overworked before Katrina) and barely has funding to pay for a few staff members. Things got so bad that the Louisiana Supreme Court passed a rule allowing out of state attorneys to have a one year blanket pro hac vice status, but only for those who were representing indigent defendants.
There has been no gold rush of incoming attorneys, which is not surprising since there is no money to be made in representing indigent criminal defendants. Fortunately, some attorneys are coming anyway. One of the fine souls who has come is my friend Brian Privor, who clerked for a local federal judge a few years ago and then went on to work at a prestigious Washington firm, mostly doing white collar criminal work. Brian arrived a few days ago, and has been busy getting settled. I met him the other night and he told me stories about the insanity that he has to deal with in his new job. Suffice it to say, that it’s vastly different than what he was doing before.
Still, Brian is eager to help out and upbeat about his opportunity to fill an important need in our local ‘justice system.’ When I heard some of Brian’s stories I said "you need to start a weblog and write about this stuff so other people can hear this." He said he had planned to start one, and –lo and behold– he did. So check out Brian’s weblog and keep tuning in to find out what life is like for a public defender in New Orleans post-Katrina.