Ten years ago I worked as a Public Defender in Middlebury. People in custody were kept in a basement holding area that allowed for safe transfers from cars to the jail, but unhealthy and borderline unconstitutionally improper cells. There was plenty of room for counsel visits, with no privacy, no windows and claustrophobic pens. When a prisoner arrived financially unable to afford counsel, a lawyer would be assigned to the case. Almost no one, except for the DUI, out-of-towners, had retained lawyers, most of whom could plead out a drunk but not try a case. The Deputy Sheriff would find the on-duty PD or call out the name of the defendant. One day, I heard, “whose got Larkin Forney?” Frankly, I thought it was a sandwich or a condition. I said, “what’s a Larkin Forney?” “You’re client, you idiot. He’s downstairs, with a pile of papers and he wants to talk with you.”
Larkin had papers, all right. He had motions he had written which he wanted to file and he had a full statement of facts, his version, and he had pages of a book he was writing. And he was pissed that I hadn’t familiarized myself with all the nuances of the case before we met. I had to excuse his vituperativeness, given the fact I would leave the cell and he would stay. He may not have known I only just got the papers and barely had looked at them as I walked down the stairs. And, poor communication between offices of the Public Defender and the general malaise of some of the attorneys prevented me from knowing he had fired his previous PD after writing a complaint to the disciplinary committee accusing the lawyer who is now a judge or magistrate or something or all sorts of unethical conduct, asserting that the representation was less than adequate and unconstitutionally defective.
[MORE To Come]