As the U.S. recession cuts into government budgets across the country, some public agencies are struggling more than others. Several state-funded defense attorneys say they have fewer resources to handle the flood of clients accused of crimes or other offenses. Officials in Miami are looking for private attorneys to volunteer to help clear a small part of the backlog.

 

由于经济衰退,美国各地政府财政预算被削减,一些公共机构比其他部门更是难以为继。一些政府资助的公共辩护律师说,大批人被指控犯罪或是有犯法行为,但是他们用来服务这类当事人的资源越来越少。迈阿密的官员正在寻找那些自愿提供服务的私营律师帮助解决积压的部分案子。

Ben Reiss left his job as an assistant public defender 10 years ago, in favor of a higher paying job with a top private law firm. That did not stop him from appearing in a Miami court recently to defend a teenager facing misdemeanor drug charges.

 

本.赖斯十年前离开了助理公共辩护律师的岗位,进入一个薪酬较高的顶级私营律师事务所。不过,他最近在迈阿密的一家法庭出庭为一名被指控非法携带毒品的青少年辩护。

"This was a possession of marijuana case, and we had filed a motion to suppress evidence," said Reiss.

 

“这个案子涉及到私藏大麻。我们已经提出了排除证据的申请。”

Reiss and his colleagues from the private firm Greenberg Traurig won the motion and convinced the judge to throw out the charges altogether. He said the lawyers were delighted to win the case, but their client was even more pleased.

 

赖斯和格林伯格-特劳里格私营律师事务所的其他同事一起努力,赢得了这个申请,并成功劝说法官放弃了所有其他指控。他说,律师们很高兴赢得了案子,但是,他们的当事人更高兴。

"It took him about three seconds to realize the impact of what happened. And the look on his face was simply priceless," Reiss said.

 

“过了三秒钟。他才意识到发生的一切对他的影响,他脸上的表情是无价的。”

The teen from a low-income home in Miami was not a typical client of a international law firm like Greenberg Traurig. Most indigent people facing charges use defense attorneys from state-funded public defender offices. Miami Public Defender Carlos Martinez says attorneys in his office have been more and more overworked in the past two years.

 

这名来自迈阿密低收入家庭的少年并不是格林伯格-特劳里格这一类的国际公司里典型的客户。许多面临指控的贫困人口利用州政府资助的公共辩护办公室的辩护律师,但是,由于州政府削减财政预算,再加上被捕人数上升,许多公共律师办公室面临危机。迈阿密公共辩护律师卡洛斯.马丁内斯说,过去两年来,他的办公室的律师们的工作量越来越大。

"Our case loads kept increasing particularly in our felony division. They increased in a matter of four years 29 percent. At the same them, we started experiencing budget cuts since 2007, that have equaled approximately $3.6 million," he said.

 

“我们重案组的工作量特别大。四年间,增加了29%。与此同时,从2007年开始,我们开始面临预算削减,数目大约有360万美元。”

Martinez says arrests are up because federal payouts have boosted police programs targeting illegal guns, drugs and gang activity. But similar funding was not sent to state prosecutors or public defenders to process court cases. In Miami, recent changes have forced the public defender to cut 30 attorney positions and curtail internships for law school students.

 

马丁内斯说,由于联邦政府投入更多的资金给警方,加强打击非法枪支、毒品以及犯罪团伙的项目,被捕人数上升。但是,州检察官和公共辩护律师却没有得到相应的资金。在迈阿密,由于这些改变的出现,公共辩护办公室不得不砍掉30个律师职位,并限制法律系学生的见习人数。

Now Martinez is expanding a pro bono program, where Ben Reiss and about two dozen other private attorneys are working misdemeanor and felony cases. He says the pro bono attorneys are helping in the crisis, but they are not the solution.

 

目前,马丁内斯正在着手扩大无偿服务项目。赖斯和其他二十多位私营律师正在忙着处理轻罪和重罪的案子。他说,这些无偿服务的律师帮助解决了部分危机,但是,他们不是最终的解决办法。

"No matter the number of attorneys there is no way we can completely fill the funding gap with just volunteer attorneys. There has to be some significant reform of the system," Martinez said.

 

“不管有多少律师参加这个项目,仅靠这些义务律师我们无法完全弥补资金上的缺口。必须对这个体制进行重大的改革。”

The budget problems are not unique to Miami. Public defenders in Kentucky, Minnesota and Georgia say they are struggling with backlogs too. Advocates for public defenders say continued cuts may threaten the programs needed to provide justice for those accused of crimes and for the victims of crime.

 

迈阿密不是唯一面临预算问题的城市。肯塔基州、明尼苏达州和乔治亚州等地的公共辩护律师们都在忙于应付积压的案子。公共辩护律师服务的支持者说,继续削减经费可能会威胁到那些为犯罪嫌疑人或犯罪受害人提供法律服务的必要项目。

Jeanne Baker represents the Miami chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She says what is happening in Miami shows how difficult it is to ensure public funds are available for accused criminals.

 

珍妮.贝克是美国民权自由联盟在迈阿密的代表。她说,迈阿密发生的这一切显示,依靠公共资金来为被控罪犯提供服务是多么困难。

"I believe on the state side there has been underfunding and under-recognition of the importance and need for funding public defense for the indigent for a long time," Baker said.

 

“我相信,就州政府来说,很长时间以来,公共辩护没有得到足够的资金, 为穷人提供公共辩护服务的重要性和必要性也没有得到足够的认识。”

Baker says if public defender programs begin to fail for some clients, it would destroy the ability of the courts to ensure justice for all.

 

贝克说,如果公共辩护项目开始忽视某些当事人,那么,法庭确保所有人都得到公正对待的职能就会受到损害。

Rick Freedman, head of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Miami, says budget cuts could also wind up costing the state more money. He says public defenders who are overworked may not be able to provide an adequate defense for their clients.

 

里克.弗里曼是设在迈阿密的佛罗里达刑事辩护律师协会的负责人。他说,削减预算可能导致州政府最后不得不花费更多的钱。他说,那些超负荷工作的公共辩护律师们可能无法为他们的客户提供足够的辩护。

"That defendant challenges in an appellate court and says I didn't have effective counsel. The case comes back, they have to do it all over again and spend more money," he said.

 

“被告会在上诉法庭提出抗辩,声称自己没有得到有效辩护。然后案子被打回来从头审理, 这样会花费更多的钱。”

Freedman says spending more money now to help the public defender's office may ensure the courts can process cases right the first time.

 

弗里曼说,应该现在就向公共辩护律师办公室投入更多的资金,因为只有这样才能确保法庭在第一时间让案子进入正确的程序。