Prisoner prosecution wastes tax money - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Prisoner prosecution wastes tax money

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Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2009 3:48 pm | Updated: 12:30 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Matt Brown: I currently represent a client charged with possession of marijuana. By itself, that’s not unusual. What is unusual, however, is that the state claims he had weed in prison. He just finished serving his 18th year, and he’s got a little over 56 years left to go. Why would the state choose to prosecute such a case?

I currently represent a client charged with possession of marijuana. By itself, that’s not unusual. What is unusual, however, is that the state claims he had weed in prison. He just finished serving his 18th year, and he’s got a little over 56 years left to go. He’s middle-aged.

Why would the state choose to prosecute such a case? What else can they do to him? He’s going to enjoy his field trips to court. If he goes to trial, it’s going to feel good to wear street clothes and take the restraints off, even if it’s just for a little while. What kind of plea is a “lifer” going to want to take?

The prosecutor knows all of this because I told him. He doesn’t seem to care.

Dockets are already too full. Everyone in the system is already overworked. When I hear about budget cuts, I wonder how much of the budget goes to meaningless prosecutions. Win or lose, the practical effect of my client’s case is going to be the same: It won’t matter. We will all just be a little bit busier for the next few months.

I will file motions. In this case, there might be a lot of them. I suspect I will have to litigate some discovery issues, and I will spend time dealing with voir dire and jury instructions. I’ll write and send out a variety of letters and notices before all is said and done. The state will have to deal with everything I submit, and the judge will have to rule. I will conduct officer interviews, prepare my arguments and devote a few days to trial.

Trials are expensive. Court personnel will be in attendance, and the sheriff will have to transport my client there from prison. My client will need clothes, and a court reporter will have to be there for all proceedings. Jurors will take time from their busy schedules to attend trial, and the judge will not be hearing other cases. The courtroom will be occupied, air conditioning blasting.

I enjoy trial, but I’m not crazy about wasting tax dollars on pointless cases. This case is pointless. Does anyone disagree? Under what theory of punishment can the prosecution be justified? Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for such a ridiculous show?

Please, someone enlighten me.

Chandler attorney Matt Brown originally wrote this commentary for his law firm’s blog,

“Chandler Criminal Defense,” at http://brownandlittlelaw.com/blog1/.

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