The Champion

April 2003 , Page 51 

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Outmanned and outgunned

By Jose J. Monsivais

Read more 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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