The Champion

September/October 2003 , Page 54 

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Seized Opportunity

By Scott Miles

Read more A Gideon Moment columns.

Robert Sims (not his real name) had been sleeping in the cab of a broken down truck in the yard of a co-worker’s home for several months when he was arrested on the felony warrant. Charged with failure to register as a convicted sex offender, Sims was facing a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison if convicted. In addition to being homeless and indigent, Sims had been convicted of a violent sex-crime felony, and so he was housed in the Richmond City Jail while awaiting trial.

The judge appointed the Richmond Public Defender’s Office to represent Sims, and I was the Assistant Public Defender assigned to his case. When I met Sims at the city jail, he protested that he had been doing everything he could do to stay out of trouble. Even though he had not had stable housing for some time, he had been getting his mail at the local Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR) office, he had been working steadily for a local contractor, and his recent scrape with the law had

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