Judge Halts Multi-defendant Prosecution in Baton Rouge, LA

On August 12th, the Honorable Trudy M. White of the 19th Judicial District Court issued a stay of prosecution for 60 days in The state of Louisiana v. Turner et al. This order was both brave as well as the only fair and just decision in a case with ramifications for all of our Constitutional rights.

The Turner case involves 19 co-defendants with myriad, complicated charges brought against each, many of whom are too poor to afford legal representation. In accordance with the U.S. and Louisiana constitutions, it is the state's responsibility to ensure adequate counsel for all accused citizens. Because the East Baton Rouge Public Defenders Office is inadequately funded, these defendants were appointed attorneys outside of the public defenders office, many of whom have little to no experience in criminal defense. This scenario would not only jeopardize the accused's right to counsel (and subject these cases to a lengthy and expensive appeals process), but permit the government to take months' worth of an individual's private labor or property without compensation.

Judge White recognized this conflict and upheld the sanctity of our Constitution in her decision. It is our sincere wish for the legislature to recognize that the state can only prosecute to the extent a citizen can be defended. Until our public defenders have stable, reliable and adequate funding, our criminal justice system will continue to falter.

Attachments:
Download this file (Order_and_Reasons.pdf)Order and Reasons[ ]
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