Although our legal system may be slow and frustrating at times, I believe it is the best in the world. Our founders had the foresight to set up a system that provides the rights to notice, to due process of law, to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures, to remain silent, and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Those rights, among others, arose because the founders knew that unless the power of the State could be checked, the State would engage in abuses. Explicit in the Bill of Rights and implicit in those rights themselves, is the right to representation--so that if you find yourself in the State's cross-hairs, someone who knows the law can ensure that your rights aren't trampled upon. That's Civics 101, right?
Apparently, Martin Beeson--who is the elected DA of Colorado's 9th Judicial District (and until recently was running for United States Congress)--missed that class. The Aspen Daily News reported last week that when Beeson was making his budget pitch to the Pitkin County Commissioners he got a little testy about his office having to prosecute cases defended by the public defender:
Asked about the public defender's budget after his Aspen meeting on Tuesday, Beeson criticized the office for abusing the 6th Amendment right to a defense counsel by needlessly frustrating the DA's efforts and using legal loopholes to suppress incriminating evidence against their clients.
"Public defenders are not defenders of the public," Beeson said. "They are not serving the public good. They are taxpayer-funded attorneys for criminals."
You can read the full article here.
Listen, I know sometimes defense attorneys get a bad name, and Public Defenders even more so. Sometimes, the guilty do go free so that an innocent isn't convicted. And, as a former prosecutor, I know how hard it can be to obtain a conviction. I also know that it should be hard to obtain a conviction because the State is impacting the rights and very freedom of the accused.
Mr. Beeson, I'm sorry if someone stands up to you. I'm sorry if you are frustrated by defense attorneys, judges, and the Constitution. But, if no one watches those in power, if no one is able to question those would have us named "criminals", if no one is able to test the proof that the State claims is evidence or the methods the State uses to obtain that evidence, then we are no better than a tyranny.
Mr. Beeson, the right to reprsentation isn't a "loophole". The Constitution demands it!