Idaho’s criminal defense system for indigent defendants is “broken,” Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Burdick told lawmakers this morning. Though Idaho’s law and state constitution require such defense, soaring caseloads, short funding, and lack of qualified, experienced and suitably trained attorneys have eroded the fairness of the system, he said.
Burdick said the judicial system is a “three-legged stool,” with the three legs the prosecutor, the criminal defense attorney, and the impartial third party – the judge – who applies law to a set of contested facts. “All three-legged stools are only as stable and useful for their intended purpose as the three legs,” he said. “In Idaho’s system of justice today, defense for the indigent is the weakest leg in the system. … Frankly, our system for the defense of indigents, as required by Idaho’s constitution and laws, is broken.” More here. Betsy Russell, EOB