Justice Delayed — For Most

Three recent news stories got me thinking about access to the justice system in this country and how it changes according to the value people — primarily taxpayers  and those who should be paying taxes but find ways to not — place on it, public policy and the ability of people who want or need access to pay for it. First is a story about two divorce filings, one in New York, the other in Los Angeles. The New York divorce was initiated by Rupert Murdoch, whose filing reportedly says, “the relationship between the husband and wife has broken down irretrievably.” He’s calling it quits with China-born, Yale-educated Wendi Deng, his wife of 14 years, whose fierce presence at his side — including her slapping a cream pie-tossing Murdoch non-fan — achieved prominence during 2011 UK Parliamentary hearings into asserted malfeasance of his news holdings in Great Britain. In Los Angeles, Miley Cyrus parents Billy Ray and Laeticia “Tish” are ending their nearly 20-year-union. Billy Ray Cyrus, Rupert Murdoch both headed to divorce court: Favorite People  http://www.oregonlive.com/celebrity-news/index.ssf/2013/06/favorite_people_16.html My guess is that both divorces will slide smoothly through the courts and be finalized expeditiously. The second story  is about the Los Angeles court system where one of those divorces was filed. It says 511 court employees are being laid off and others demoted in yet round of another bone-hacking budget cuts, thanks to California’s a years-long campaign to decrease court funding, as a result of the state’s devastating budget woes in the first decade of the 21st Century.

L.A. County Court to complete elimination of 511 court-related jobs Friday  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23447474/l-county-court-complete-elimination-511-court-related This after other deep cost-cutting measures.

A South L.A. gang intervention and prevention worker said when the Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center was one of eight regional courthouses slated for closure as part of dealing with an $85 million shortfall, that he worried about how that would affect not only the youths the Center serves, but crime rates. “If you shut these courts down,” [the worker] said, “where’s the justice going to come from? It’s going to come from the street.”
Court closure expected to mean trouble for at-risk youths  http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/21/local/la-me-court-protest-20130422
The third story concerns a bill Florida governor Rick Scott signed into law, called the “Timely Justice Act”, “requires governors to sign death warrants 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court certifies that an inmate has exhausted his legal appeals and his clemency review. Once a death warrant is signed, the new law requires the state to execute the defendant within six months.” Scott, in defense of the law, said it will “’fast track’ death penalty cases” and “’discourages stalling tactics’ of defense attorneys and ensures that the convicted ‘do not languish on death row for decades.’”
Gov. Rick Scott signs bill to speed up executions in Florida  http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/14/3451849/gov-rick-scott-signs-bill-to-speed.html

This in the midst of ongoing allegations that Florida has the most abysmal record in the country of defense attorneys for capital punishment defendants http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/497/this-week?act=6#play.
And never mind that dozens if not hundreds of death row inmates have been exonerated years and even decades after their convictions.
So, yes, access to justice can certainly be capricious in the U.S.

2 responses to “Justice Delayed — For Most

  1. Linda Deutsch

    Eloquently said, Jerrianne.,

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