Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Leading the lambs to slaughter

I was in County Court No. 2 in Galveston County this morning to file a motion and discuss a case with the prosecutor. Despite taking my time getting on the road, I managed to find my way into the courtroom at docket call.

And that's when it happened.

Something that was so jarring. Something that didn't sound right as soon as the words hit your ears.

A defendant answered the docket call. Judge Barbara Roberts (one of the new judges swept into office this past November) asked him if he had an attorney.

The gentleman said he did not.

"Would you like to speak to the DA?" came the question from the bench.

The man said he would. The judge asked him to come up front to see the clerk. When he got there the clerk handed him a waiver of rights

She never informed him that he had a right to counsel. She never informed him that if he couldn't afford an attorney he could petition the court for appointed counsel. She never informed him that the prosecutor did not represent him. She never informed him that anything he said to the prosecutor could be used against him.

In short, she failed to admonish him properly.

She failed to perform her job which is to sit as a neutral and impartial arbiter and to see that a criminal defendant's rights are not violated in her court.


Brent said...

I encountered the same thing in a Smith County court. As I walked by the defendant I told him that he had the right to a court appointed attorney if he was indigent. Should have seen the look I got from the prosecutor. Priceless.

attorneyschuerman said...

This is par for the course in Parker County where I practice. 14 lambs led to slaughter today alone.

Jeanie said...

Hi there... I take it you don't think too highly of Judge Barbara Roberts. I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to defend myself pro se in her court regarding a credit card breach of contract suit. Thought I'd Google the judge and see whether she seems to give pro se defendants a fair shake or not. I have a status conference set for August 2 and am trying to decide if I want to try to defend this case or motion for arbitration. Any suggestions? BTW, the OC is Cap 1 :-/