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Go Buy or Rent the MARSHALL Movie Today – and Contact your Delegate and Senator and ask them to VOTE YES on the Statewide Indigent Defense Bill!

The recent MARSHALL movie came out last Tuesday and I of course bought it and it arrived last Friday!  The movie is about a 1940 trial set in Connecticut of an African-American falsely accused of raping a white woman.  it’s great.  I always admire the guy or gal who stands up to the system for a good cause.  See the movie today!

Now being a Thurgood Marshall admirer, (he did so much to lay down the legal basis against Jim Crow and legal segregation/discrimination in the US) I enjoyed this movie very much – probably in part since it exposes racism in the North – no South bashing.  In fact the forewoman of the jury that acquits the defendant (I do not know if she is a real person) but she is portrayed as a Southerner who could be fair to blacks.

But Marshall makes a short speech in front of the courthouse where he says blacks do not get the equal protection of the laws (Here it is on YouTube) and alas he was right in 1940 (and maybe not today, either, some would argue) and this inspired me to write this blog post


Now we have in Virginia a situation that verges on the denial of the equal protection of the laws, depending on where an indigent is charged with a crime.  If he or she is charged in Wise County, or Prince William County or Hanover County or Floyd County – yes there are fine, even excellent attorneys to be appointed in all those places.  BUT there is an institutional advantage in favor of public defender offices – they have support staff, investigators, legal “specialists” on appeals, juvenile court matters and sentencing/mitigation.  This is at least the potential for an equal protection violation.  The Sixth Amendment is too critical for its protections to be based on what court you are accused of a crime in.

We need a statewide public defender system WITH a appellate division.  Del. Rasoul has introduced a bill to do exactly that.  HB 1296.  Here it is.

Here is how to contact your delegate and/or senator.  It would be consonant with the spirit of Martin Luther King Day to agitate for justice and righteousness and support this bill.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

2 Responses to “Go Buy or Rent the MARSHALL Movie Today – and Contact your Delegate and Senator and ask them to VOTE YES on the Statewide Indigent Defense Bill!”

  1. Publius Huldah

    I started out as criminal defense attorney. Yes, we have a two-tiered criminal justice system: based on the wealth and social status of the defendant.

    But there is one major problem which would cost NOTHING to fix – and indeed, fixing this problem would greatly reduce the number of situations where poor people are railroaded.

    Prosecutors need to rethink their purpose: IT IS NOT TO GET CONVICTIONS! IT IS TO SEE THAT JUSTICE IS DONE. That means not prosecuting cases where there is insufficient evidence [even if the Defendant is poor] – and it means turning over to Defense all exculpatory evidence as soon as it comes to light.

    Too many prosecutors care more about their *amned Egos and notches on their sledge hammer than in seeing that justice is done.

    Prosecutors who withhold exculpatory evidence should be disbarred and forced to pay restitution to their victims.

    Every day, I see more and more clearly that our massive problems are caused by our moral failings.

  2. GeneThePopulist says:

    Where does it say in the 6th Amendment that the accused is entitled to an F. Lee Bailey, or Johnnie Cochran? If you cannot do the time, do not do the crime.

    1) The taxpayer is already footing the bill for stopping drugs at the federal, state, local, levels. And it isn’t working. Now, you want better $awyers to get druggies off so they can continue their trade. Yea, right.
    2) The taxpayer is the one getting railroaded by a bunch of crooked lawyers.
    3) Take the lawyers out of government, and you would probably be taking 60-70% of the corruption out of government.
    4) There is over $200 million in a cookie jar Sandy, and you ain’t going to stop staring at it like a little child stares at a candy jar on a counter top as long as it is there. Admit it.
    5) People are sick and dying from no healthcare, and you are worried about dope addicts and bank robbers getting off.
    6) If you are so worried about the accused, are you volunteering to help them?
    7) It would be very interesting to see where someone like Ann Holton Kaine is on this one. Someone who has proven in the past that she actually cares about the accused being properly represented.

    What planet do come from? You need to find a new church or preacher.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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