Category: indigent defense

Congressman rebuked by evangelical attorney for shameful town hall performance

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Kent McKeever

By Alan Bean

I met Kent McKeever several months ago when I spoke at a worship service highlighting the need for immigration reform held at Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.  Kent had just arrived in Waco to work as an immigration attorney in cooperation with Jimmy Dorrell’s Mission Waco.  I knew immediately that Kent was one of those rare individuals Jesus had in mind when he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8).

A few weeks ago, law professor Mark Osler celebrated McKeever’s selfless odyssey  in a Waco Tribune column:

A Baylor grad, he had gone on to get a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary before entering Vanderbilt’s top-flight law school. His credentials could have opened the door to many high-paying jobs, the kind of work (and pay) that students dream of. But his hope was for something very different. He wanted to return to Waco and provide legal services to the poor.

I saw Kent again last week at the Christian Community Development (CCDA) conference in New Orleans.  He has been cooperating with a variety of evangelical groups working for immigration reform, most recently a diverse group calling itself Bibles, Badges and Business.  The Waco Tribune has published an illuminating conversation between the Tribune editorial staff and this group, and McKeever was part of the discussion.   (more…)

Why you’re in Deep Trouble if You Can’t Afford a Lawyer

If you’re wondering why indigent defendants rarely get a fair break check out this graph.  Law enforcement expansion has kept pace with an exploding prison population, but money for courts, judges, prosecutors has lagged and funding for public defenders, has hardly changed at all.  The result: your public defender or court appointed attorney simply doesn’t have the time to defend you.   This goes a long way to explaining why so many cases are settled by plea bargain regardless of the merits: the system can’t afford to take cases to trial even when the facts are murky.   Read the full article at Mother Jones.