Sunday, April 4, 2004 - Tuesday, April 6, 2004
A case study in incompetence
For some, free counsel comes at a high cost
Poor defendants are guaranteed an attorney, but sometimes itís an attorney with limited abilities or one who is handling too many cases for too little pay.
· Portraits: How the system failed
A case study in exploitation
Attorney profited, but his clients lost
When it comes to felonies, an attorney's limit should be 150 cases a year, bar groups say. Last year, Grant County public defender Thomas J. Earl handled 413.
· Follow the money: 781 cases, 4 attorneys, $500,000
A portrait of justice on the cheap
Frustrated attorney: 'You just can't help people'
Washington offers little help to strained public-defense systems.
· Public-defense alternatives
· Grant County faces lawsuit over public-defense system
What we found
When it comes to justice for the poor, Washington gets what it pays for
Fixed-fee contracts cap attorneys' pay, regardless of caseload.
Most Washington counties (in green) use contract systems to control costs.
It's worst in Grant County, where 85% of cases end in a guilty plea.
A look at Grant County