Alan Bernstein wrote an article today recapping a debate between D.A. Candidates Pat Lykos and Clarence Bradford. (NOTE: Thanks for the head's up on that, Muck.)
We are rapidly approaching the election, and I was glad to see that the candidates were finally getting down to some substantive issues, and they argued their positions on them.
Issue # 1-The Selection of Grand Jurors-Bradford's position was that the method of selecting grand jurors should be done like it is on the Federal side, where there is actually a true jury selection. I tend to agree with Bradford's position that this method of selecting the grand jurors would assist in restoring faith in the grand jury system, as I pointed out a while back. That being said, I continue to believe that the issue of time will always be an issue in the selection of Grand Jurors who are willing and able to serve.
I would also like to point out that I think our grand jurors who serve under the current method of selection are doing their community a great service, and I believe that they serve with honor and distinction. They donate a significant amount of their time and they take their jobs very seriously. The problem lies with the perception of how they are selected, and not in the actual jobs that they do.
Issue # 2-The Public Defender's Office-on this issue, I agree completely with Lykos. While Bradford is in favor of the PD office, Lykos recognizes that our current system of court appointed attorneys doesn't get the recognition it deserves. I agree with her position that excellent attorneys are appointed to represent the indigent defendants on a daily basis, as I also pointed out awhile back.
I know that this a hotly debated topic and will probably get some arguments here, but I think that our current system continues to provide excellent representation to people who can't afford it. I don't think that the quality attorneys that I listed in my earlier article would be willing to find themselves suddenly working for a government agency. The PD's office would be getting the vast majority of its staff from attorney's fresh out of law school -- they may become great attorneys in time, but it would take years for them to rise to the level of Skip Cornelius, Alvin Nunnery, Tyrone Moncrief, Robert Morrow, Charlie Brown, Ricardo Rodriguez, and others.
And, by the time they rise to the level of these guys, they will probably realize that private practice is more lucrative and provides more personal freedom.
Just a thought.
Lykos was also very correct in pointing out that this particular issue is out of the District Attorney's hands.
The only other point of contention which is listed in the article is that Bradford supports the issuance of citations on low-level non-violent offenses. I'm not really sure what the specifics are on what Bradford was suggesting, but I would assume that he was addressing the possibility of issuing citations on some marijuana cases.
From a logistical stand-point, I think Lykos was correct in describing this idea as "too unwieldy".
So, the bottom line is that I think the debate was a split-decision on who had the "right" idea on the issues.
But it was very nice to hear actual issues were being debated.