A Conversation: Pro Bono X2
March 7, 2012 § 9 Comments
Ah, WordPress. I prepared a nice opening drive for the White Caddy. The seats were full. Then, the page changes to something freaky and WordPress updated my 3000+ word post into a pristine, white canvas.
Quick background: If a person is accused of a crime in the military, they are entitled to a defense lawyer from their service’s trial defense office. It is similar to a public defender in many ways, but there are two key differences.
1. Military members are assigned military counsel regardless of income. If the lowest private is accused of a crime, they receive a free military lawyer. If the highest general is accused of a crime, they, too, get a free military lawyer. No questions asked.
2. Suppose a person hires a private lawyer to present their defense. They do not lose military counsel. In this way, they get two for the price of one. The military counsel is required to remain on the case and act as co-counsel.
OK, now, here’s the situation, and it happens a lot.
First, a service member is accused of a crime. They receive assigned counsel for free. Assigned counsel will occasionally recommend a plea agreement. This is often sound advice.
Second, client hates the idea of pleading guilty. In turn, they decide to hate their assigned counsel.
Third, they begin calling civilian lawyers. Sticker shock inevitably ensues.
Then, they ask the question they learn through diligent searches of the Googles: “Do you know anyone who will take my case pro bono?”
My answer is truthful. “No, I don’t. The lawyers who I know that take cases for free (myself included) do not provide those services to individuals who already have one free lawyer.”
The conversation ends on this premise.
So, dear readers, what do you think? Lawyer or non-lawyer, I’m curious as to the opinions of the 5-10 readers I have out there.
Are we too hard-hearted? Is there no such thing as too much pro bono publico?
Or, do you subscribe to the philosophy of “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit?”
The floor is yours.