The taxpayer-funded public defender system in greater New Orleans is now so overrun trying to defend black criminals that they have started to refuse to take on more cases.
According to a report in the Times-Picayune newspaper, the New Orleans Public Defenders’ office starting refusing to take on new “serious” cases last week because they do not have the manpower or the finances to cope with the load.
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees any accused the right to representation by counsel in serious criminal prosecutions. The cost of representation is the direct burden of the state in terms of the Criminal Justice Act.
However, the rocketing crime rate in the 70 percent nonwhite greater New Orleans district has now completely overwhelmed the system, as almost all the arrestees are unable to afford their own defenders. The Public Defender’s office represents an astonishing 85 percent of felony criminal defendants in Orleans Parish.
The New Orleans office’s caseload is two to three times greater than recognized national standards, even though Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration has increased direct appropriations to the office from $831,000 in 2014 to more than $1.5 million this year.
According to Colin Reingold, the office litigation director, all felony cases in which defendants face lengthy or life sentences will from now on be refused help. This includes murder, attempted murder, forcible rape, and armed robbery.
He added that the public defenders are currently dealing with at least 350 cases of the type they will begin refusing, and they are spread among only eight full-time staff attorneys qualified to handle them. These include 85 cases in which defendants face mandatory life sentences.
Reingold said the overburdened office is unable to comply with the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct, American Bar Association guidelines, and the 6th Amendment of the US Constitution.
“Those things require that we have capacity on a day-to-day basis to do the investigation into our clients’ cases, to visit our clients, to take their phone calls and be able to advise them,” Reingold said. “The office either needs more funding or reduced caseloads.”
The refusal to take on new serious cases has been expected ever since a November 2015 announcement by Deputy District Defender Jee Park that the office was “too undermanned and overworked to provide constitutionally adequate legal defense to indigent clients.”
Park warned that her office would request the moratorium on new cases throughout all twelve sections of New Orleans’ criminal district courthouse. The office handled nearly 10,000 misdemeanor and 8,000 felony cases in 2014, using lawyers working an average of 60–65 hours per week.
An earlier report revealed that the East Baton Rouge district office, which employs about 45 lawyers, handled about 22,620 cases in 2014 for an average caseload of 503 cases per lawyer.
A brief look at the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) “wanted” press release list shows clearly the nature of the problem the administration faces: massive black crime and an ever-diminishing white taxpayer base upon which it can draw for funding.
Eventually, when the last whites are completely ethnically cleansed from New Orleans—driven out by Third World crime and living conditions—everything will stop functioning, and the city will become another Detroit.