Monday, June 06, 2005

No more meet 'em, greet 'em and plead 'em

The public defender in Broward County has forbidden his attorneys from advising indigent criminal defendants to plead guilty at arraignment unless they've had "meaningful contact" with their clients in advance.

Pleading a client guilty or no contest without establishing an attorney-client relationship and investigating the circumstances of the case violates Sixth Amendment protections, said Public Defendar Howard Finkelstein.

In the past, about 80 percent of all criminal defendants -- and 40 percent of all accused felons -- pleaded guilty at arraignment in Broward. "They meet with an attorney for 60 seconds, then they plead guilty and surrender their rights," Finkelstein said. "That's going to stop."

Read the whole story here.


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