Sunday, November 29, 2009

Berrien County Commissioners Take No Action

Rev. Pinkney delivered a copy of the following to each Berrien County Commissioner this past week:

The Indigent Defense Service in the Berrien County Courthouse has the following deficiencies, among others:

1. Judges, prosecutors, and indigent defense all work together against the defendants.
(The judiciary is not independent from the prosecutorial function.)

2. There are no written attorney performance standards, nor is there a meaningful system of attorney supervision and monitoring.

3. There are no guidelines on how to identify conflicts of interest.

4. There are no attorney work standards

5. There is no adequate attorney training.

6. There is no merit based attorney hiring and retention program.

7. There are no written client elegibility standards.


The refusal of the court-appointed Indigent Defense Council to put the case, which is against their clients, to the credible, meaningful, adversarial test, causes members of the defendent class to suffer numerous harms, including but not limited to:

1. wrongful denial of representation
2. wrongful conviction of crimes
3. unecessary or prolonged pretrial detentions
4. guilty pleas to innappropriate charges and denial of the right to a trial when meritorious defense are available
5. harsher sentences than the facts of the case warrant
6. few alternatives to incarceration

We the people want Berrien County to provide indigent defense programs and representation consistent with the requirements of the US government.

Berrien County Commissioners know that taking no action is wrong, but they continue to preside over world class human rights abuses.

Their inaction for decades and decades is criminal and unconstitutional.