Friday, July 10, 2009
Houston's Perry Masons
"Lawyer Jerome Godinich, chastised by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this year for repeatedly failing to meet federal death penalty deadlines, has represented an average of 360 felony clients per year in Harris County--a caseload that surpasses every other similar attorney. ... In all, 10 of 32 Harris County lawyers approved by judges to represent clients facing life or death sentences regularly exceeded the recommended limit of 150 felony clients per year--a standard established in 1973 and adopted by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Houston Chronicle found. ... Stephen Bright, an expert in capital case representation who has taught at Yale and Harvard law schools and reviewed the Chronicle's findings, said death penalty lawyers have no business handling nearly 400 clients in one year. 'That's way too many cases and would not leave time for any other cases, particularly capital cases.' ... Harris County District Court judges do not monitor caseloads of attorneys they appoint, even for death penalty cases", Lise Olsen at the Houston Chronicle, 26 May 2009.
OJ spent $4.4 million on his criminal attorneys. Assuming an average of $400 per hour, that's 11,000 hours. If an attorney "handles" 150 cases per year and has 1,800 working hours, that's 12 hours per case! An attorney can easily spend 12 hours drafting one pretrial motion! Indigent representation in Harris County, like much of the rest of the US is a joke. A result: 98% of all Texas felony cases are resolved through plea bargains. The majority of prosecutors could no more try a case properly than Marcia Clark and Chris Darden did in the seven-month OJ fiasco.