☰ In this section

The Champion

June 2009 , Page 36 

Search the Champion Looking for something specific?

Preview of Member Only Content

For full access: login or Become a Member Join Now

Misdemeanor Courts Are In Need of Repair

By Maureen Dimino

Upon entering the morning arraignment calendar in misdemeanor court in Florida, I was handed a rights waiver form. I received no explanation of what it was or my rights, but I was asked to sign it. The standardized form includes the caveat that one waives all her rights to counsel and trial.1 I was very tempted to sign the form and get called up while the court staff searched frenetically for my case number — but I had to maintain my undercover observer status.

No public defenders were in that courtroom. This was understandable, since they were not appointed to these morning arraignment cases. Although no attorney was appointed by the court to these defendants, several were taken into custody. Several more pled to crimes that would lead to the suspension of their driver’s license, restrictions from receiving federal benefits (like public housing or food stamps), and possible deportation. None of this was ever explained to the defendants by the judge.

Misdemeanor offenses are often viewed

Want to read more?

The Champion archive is reserved for NACDL members.

NACDL members, please login to read the rest of this article.

Not a member? Join now.
Join Now
Or click here to see an overview of NACDL Member benefits.

See what NACDL members say about us.

To read the current issue of The Champion in its entirety, click here.

  • Media inquiries: Contact NACDL's Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan J. Dominguez at 202-465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org
  • Academic Requests: Full articles of The Champion Magazine are available for academic and research purposes in the WestLaw and LexisNexis databases.
Advertisement Advertise with Us

In This Section

Advertisement Advertise with Us