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CBS News 60 Minutes sheds light on issues funding Public Defenders –
Is this what happened in the County’s Rodriquez firing?

Daryl A. Rodrigues
Photo courtesy: Quest.Attorney

– Editor’s note:
The CBS News 60 Minutes piece broadcasted April 16, 2017 about the New Orleans Public Defenders’ decision to refuse felony cases and why, brought to light what may have been behind the recent firing of Thurston County Public Defense Director Daryl Rodrigues by the then-newly seated Thurston County Board of Commissioners. The press release stated the commissioners “lost confidence in Mr. Rodrigues’ ability to lead the department of Public Defense, both financially and through personnel actions,” with no further explanation on what prompted the decision provided. Rodrigues also is president of the Washington Defender Association, according to the agency’s website.

Lisa Pemberton reported in The Olympian:
“Rodrigues said they asked for his resignation, and when he declined, they presented him with a termination letter. He said he was given three hours to pack up his office, but he chose to use the time to meet with the office’s top managers.”

“‘This is not the way lawyers leave law firms,’ he said. ‘It’s not professional or ethical to just not go to work the next day.'”

If the Rodrigues firing was some knee-jerk reaction by the three new “Independent” Commissioners where finances were involved, one can assess that the Public Defenders’ Office work-load, coupled with a lack of sufficient budget to support the department, was at fault and not Rodrigues. Did the Commissioners seriously investigate why the extensive hourly volumes are paid to this department’s staff? The public has not been informed. I met Mr. Rodriques at then-Commissioner Romero’s Coffee Chat in Yelm a year ago and I told him after his astute and brilliant presentation that he was a leader with “heart,” something that this office so needs. These are fellow citizens lives this office is defending. Are these same issues in the ’60 Minutes’ report below happening here? Probably.

– CBS New 60 Minutes highlighted America’s Public Defenders crisis!
“Inside NOLA [New Orleans, LA.] public defenders’ decision to refuse felony cases”

“New Orleans’ chief public defender tells Anderson Cooper that until he can ensure every client gets the defense they deserve, he’ll continue to turn cases away”

* How do 50 lawyers handle 22,000 cases? They can’t. New Orleans public defenders say the criminal justice system needs urgent reform.
* New Orleans public defenders admit they’ve not been able to adequately represent all their clients and innocent people have gone to jail.
* “A lawyer poorly resourced can cause irreparable harm to a client,” says Chief NOLA Public Defender Derwyn Bunton.
Read more

– Bottom line:
This writer suggests the NOLA example is the case in our Public Defenders’ Office, which contributed to the county abruptly firing a fine public servant in Daryl Rodrigues! I thank Mr. Rodrigues and wish him and his family well in their new endeavors now south of this state.

Posted by Steve on April 19, 2017 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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