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Friday, July 9, 2010

“If you’re going to seek capital punishment, you’re going to have to pay for it...If we’re going to have harsh laws, at least we should fulfill our constitutional obligations."

Norman S. Fletcher, Former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, upon hearing that his state had told the defendant in a capital case that it could no longer afford to pay for his lawyer and that, instead, he would have to switch to an overworked public defender unfamiliar with the case.

The defendant has appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which is considering whether to take the case as a potential affront to the principle of right to counsel granted in the landmark case, Gideon v. Wainwright.

In a brief supporting the defendant, Fletcher alludes to a sad state of affairs in Georgia's public defenders' office. “lawyers referring to their own clients by racial slurs, counsel distancing themselves from their clients by making it clear to the jury they were court-appointed and representing the client only because they had to, and counsel cross-examining a witness whose direct testimony counsel had missed because he was parking his car.”

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