In a sure to be groundbreaking series of articles, the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender has discovered that the business of government – the every day practice of running a State – costs money.
This heretofore undiscovered concept works in this way: people work for the State. They get paid. Shocking and novel, I know. I wonder what the repercussions for society will be? I shudder to think of the fallout from this breathtaking expose that you know, people like to get paid for the work that they do.
Take his latest revelation, for example: that lawyers hired to defend death row inmates were paid money. Ingrates, right? Bastards should work free for the honor or something.
His masterful investigative journalism (read: FOI requests) has uncovered that over the course of 8 years, the public defender’s office has made payments to approximately 8 lawyers totaling 1.8 million dollars. In addition, they’ve paid experts $513,000.
The State, ever cagey in its disclosures, says it can’t estimate how much its lawyers made working on this death penalty case, but it paid its experts over $1 million dollars.
He wrote another article a few weeks ago about how the State had paid a few hundred thousands dollars to defend against a lawsuit that went to the Second Circuit.
Perhaps Mr. Lender and his ilk work for free. Perhaps they come from money so they don’t need to get paid. Perhaps he doesn’t have a fucking clue how the world works. Or perhaps they do all too well and know that sensationalism sells. I’m guessing the real answer is closer to the latter.
The death penalty is the most final of punishments. There is a lawsuit pending, which alleges that the State of Connecticut engages in racial and geographic disparity in order to kill its own citizens. This lawsuit was diverted into a sort of “class action” by our supreme court. There are different parties to the lawsuit, including each of the death row inmates. Most of them have – as they damn well should – their own lawyer.
If the State is in the business of killing people – and doing so arbitrarily – then it should damn well have to pay for the defense of those it is trying to kill. Unless you want to live in China, like some of the comments suggest (protip: don’t read comments).
The funny thing is, that State hourly rates are paltry, especially in Connecticut. The amount of money they get paid is established by the Public Defender Commission (I think) – a commission of judges and laypersons selected by the Chief Justice and members of the legislature.
It’s one thing to report neutrally on the expenditures of the State. It’s fine. There’s excess everywhere. It’s quite another to report without context as Mr. Lender is wont to do and certainly with bias.
Because it’s easy to write article when all you’re doing is appealing to the basest instincts of humanity: revenge and jealousy. They made how much!?! AND THAT TOO DEFENDING CRIMINALS!??!
Perhaps if Mr. Lender or someone who oversees his drivel at the Courant would’ve bothered to fact-check around the country to see how much death penalty lawyers get paid; they’d realize that the fact that we pay them $100/hour is nothing. Do you know how much big firm lawyers make for working for corporations, generally sitting around in big offices smoking cigars? Upwards of $500/hour.
And we quibble about paying those that are tasked to do the ultimate job in our criminal justice system: representing the condemned?
We’ve lost all perspective of what is just and fair; there is no context anymore, just trumped up grievances in a vacuum. Government watch is necessary; we need a check on the powers of government and the fourth estate to bring them to light. But government watch isn’t looking at expenditure sheets and crowing that $3 was spent on a pen, but rather why that $3 spent on that pen was unnecessary and excessive and an abuse of power.
Because sometimes that pen is worth $3.