The Birmingham News: First US Public Defender in Alabama to build offices in Birmingham and Huntsville

It’s hard to think of places in the United States that don’t provide public defenders, leaving those who are poor with less of a shot at getting some “justice” from the justice system. I can only imagine how justice was dealt with before.  Hopefully now with a system in place, the courts can be a little fairer for the poor in Alabama. Photo on the right is of Kevin Butler, the first US Public Defender appointed in North Alabama (Birmingham News/ Joe Songer) Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

First US public defender in North Alabama to build offices in Birmingham and Huntsville

by Kent Faulk, The Birmingham News
Published: Thursday, January 05, 2012, 7:55 AM

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — North Alabama’s first federal public defender says he hopes to have offices in Birmingham and Huntsville open by summer with a staff to defend federal criminal defendants who can’t afford to hire their own lawyers.

Since beginning his job in October as the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Alabama, Kevin Butler has been busy interviewing potential staff and locating office space in the two cities. He’s also begun fighting on behalf of a few indigent criminal defendants.

Butler said his first goal for the office is to provide “the highest-quality representation of the indigent defendant as soon as possible.”
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New York Times Editorial: Jurors Need To Know That They Can Say No

Retired Professor Julian Heicklen was recently indicted on federal charges of jury tampering for standing outside the US Courthouse in Manhattan distributing information on “jury nullification”. Jury nullification is when a jury reaches a verdict outside of a judge’s instructions on the law.  It has been used in the past to defy unjust policies such as the fugitive slave laws but has also been used by a jury in the South who refused to convict civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and Law Professor at George Washington University, wrote this piece in the New York Times, advocating for jury nullification.  Submission post by Charisse Domingo

Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No

Published: December 20, 2011

New York Times

IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.

The information I have just provided — about a constitutional doctrine called “jury nullification” — is absolutely true. But if federal prosecutors in New York get their way, telling the truth to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence.

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