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Outmanned and outgunned
By Jose J. Monsivais
Indigent Defense columns.
As the lone assistant federal defender assigned to a branch office, I am
in court on a regular basis. In addition to my own cases, I am able to
observe the trial of many criminal cases in my division. I am always
looking for ways to improve my own practice by observing other lawyers
and the manner in which they litigate. I am always impressed by the
dedication and skill displayed by court-appointed lawyers defending
indigent clients in Criminal Justice Act cases.
One thing that has not been impressive, however, is the minimal amount
of resources provided for the defense of the indigent. Only the
government is assured that it has all of the necessary personnel and
resources in criminal trials. A quick glance at the proceedings
illustrates the point. In a typical trial, there are no fewer than two
Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case. There are also the case
agent, an assistant or paralegal, and a person to conduct the PowerPoint
presentation. At the de
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