- Monday, 17 October 2016
by Chief Defender Derwyn Bunton for Verdicts Magazine
“What you accept is what you deserve.” My clients and our communities do not deserve this unfairness and injustice, and I do not accept it.
“I’m taking this case because the judge threatened me with contempt if I did not.” That is what I said in court to my client four months ago, a young African-American man in his twenties. His charge carries a mandatory life-in-prison-without-parole term (LWOP). The Orleans Public Defenders Office (OPD) was in the midst of service restrictions due to a lack of resources: hiring freeze, cuts to expert funding, case refusals and waitlists for representation. His case was initially refused by OPD.
“I know; I understand.” Surprisingly and sadly, he understood and accepted what I told him. My client’s understanding illustrates what poor people — particularly poor people of color — have come to expect from an unjust criminal justice system.