"There are roughly 2,600 private attorneys in Massachusetts who accept court appointments to represent indigent defendants. Last year, some of the attorneys, known as bar advocates, refused appointments in protest of the $30 to $54 hourly rates the state paid for their services. The crisis prompted the state's Supreme Judicial Court to order the release of defendants who did not receive representation within seven days. Governor Mitt Romney has since signed legislation that raised bar advocates' pay by $7.50 an hour, a rate that still ranks as one of the lowest in the nation. Victoria Bonilla-Argudo, 47, a partner in the Boston law firm Bourbeau & Bonilla, is married with two children and lives in Milford. She has been a lawyer for 13 years and as a bar advocate has represented hundreds of clients, most of them accused of robbery, assault, and dealing drugs. This is her story. "
By Victoria Bonilla-Argudo as told to Mark Pothier in today's Boston Globe Magazine.
This is well worth the read. It is long but hang with it. The best part for me was the following:
"People believe it can't happen to them, that they won't ever need me or one of my colleagues. Maybe so, but to them I say, go to the Holocaust memorial in Boston. At the last stone there is the verse by Martin Niemoller that says, "They came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew," and ends, "Then they came for me and by that time there was no one left to speak up."
Every time the government seizes a piece of someone's liberty, we get closer to that moment. Every time it gains a little more in privacy issues, we lose. Everyone, even judges and prosecutors, must remember that. I'm the person whose job it is to say, "Wait a minute, your honor. Before you put this person in jail, you need a body like me to stand here and defend his rights."
And we do. We all do."