Crime

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A Colorado judge who collaborated with two economists on a study of public vs. private representation in criminal cases says he was surprised by the completely unsurprising results: Defendants with private lawyers fare better, as measured by the length of their sentences (and controlling for other variables that might affect punishment), than defendants with government-provided lawyers. The more serious the case, the bigger the advantage of having a private lawyer. The judge, Morris B. Hoffman, says this was the opposite of what he expected because over the years he has been impressed by "the professionalism and competence of the public defenders who handle felony cases for indigent criminal defendants in my courtroom." But the results do conform with popular stereotypes, the general superiority of private alternatives to government services, and the wisdom that you get what you pay for. If Hoffman and his co-authors had found that public defenders were more effective than private lawyers, that would have been surprising.

Hoffman offers an alternative explanation to stave off the responses of 1) better pay for public defenders or 2) privatization (presumably like the first option, but with accountability). Maybe private lawyers aren't better, he suggests. Maybe it's just that "marginally indigent" defendants (those who officially can't afford lawyers but can scrape together the money from "hidden resources" if sufficiently motivated) are especially likely to hire private lawyers when they are innocent and facing serious charges. If so, Hoffman argues, that tendency would make private lawyers look better than public defenders even if they are not any more competent on average. Maybe. It could also be that the discipline of competition among lawyers who need decent reputations to attract clients produces better results than a system that compensates people the same no matter how well they do. 

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  1. Nice find. I’ve always wondered why people who have lots of money don’t use public defenders when they go to court.

  2. So, the solution to a proper defense is a ‘single payer’ system? Amazing.

  3. This is easy. Public defenders are less experienced on average than private attorneys because the standard course for young criminal lawyers takes starts at the PD’s office and moves on to prosecution or private practice.

  4. Some public defenders’ offices are privatized. In many large cities, San Antonio and Washington DC to name two, the state pays an hourly rate to lawyers who put themselves on the referral list. This allows private attorneys to supplement their practices with a steady diet of court appointed cases and for defendants to get someone besides a PD fresh out of law school. If the attorney is incompetent, the judges just take him off of the referral list. I know several people who supplement their practices this way and it seems to work well. The biggest advantage of it is that it is a de-centralized process. You are not paying to have a layer of management associated with a big PD’s office and you are also eliminating the politics and ass kissing bullshit that goes along with any bureaucracy. Frankly, I think PD’s offices need to be eliminated and the whole system privatized along these lines.

  5. What we really need to do is get rid of people’s “right” to an attorney.

    I say get a lawyer if you can afford one, but don’t steal my money via taxes to pay for yours.

  6. “It could also be that the discipline of competition among lawyers who need decent reputations to attract clients produces better results than a system that compensates people the same no matter how well they do.”

    What’s even more offensive is that here in Cook County, Illinois the public defenders are *unionized*, with layoffs dictated by seniority. So if the budget gets cut (as it appears is happening now) the lawyers that get the ax are not judged in any way other than the time they’ve spent in their desk chair.

  7. Libby

    I agree. Losers should accept their fate. I support voluntary contributions to assisted suicide.

  8. Libby Tarian writes:

    I say get a lawyer if you can afford one, but don’t steal my money via taxes to pay for yours.

    Even if all you’re worried about is money, presumably you would also have some interest in making sure your tax dollars are not wasted on imprisoning wrongly-accused people who couldn’t afford lawyers. Prison ain’t cheap.

  9. The results of this study don’t strike me as either surprising or upsetting. Attorneys provided at public expense are a safety-net, nothing more. They help ensure that every criminal defendant will have at least some legal advice, so that (ideally) the defendant doesn’t fall into traps for the unwary or make dumb procedural mistakes. There’s no reason (IMO) why we should be trying to make state-provided representation as good as what a defendant could buy on his own, if he had the resources.

  10. Now we know OJ is innocent because he was motivated to hire private lawyers!

  11. “Now we know OJ is innocent because he was motivated to hire private lawyers!”

    That is an interesting question. The post assumes that it is a bad thing if one defendent gets a longer sentence than another. That may or may not be true. Perhaps better justice was done in the cases with the PDs. Maybe the guys who go longer sentences deserved those sentences and the guys who hired private attornies just ducked some of the punishment they richly deserved.

  12. Alkali, good point. Plus, lawyers save the court time, and therefore money, by limiting the time the court wastes dealing with pro se’s who have no idea what they are doing. I clerked for a while and an enormously disproportionate amount of time was spent on dealing with pro se’s. The government is going to spend the money one way or another- either on a lawyers salary or on the judge’s/clerk’s.

  13. Jacob,

    As it happens, my experience with USPS has been markedly superiour to my experience with FedEx (cheaper, timely, no gouging on ‘brokerage’ at the border, less breakage, etc).

    Don’t even get me started on UPS.

    YMMV of course, but my experience is far from unique.

    As to the study, does it actually compare PD’s to private lawyers FUNDED by the public (privatized public defenders) or are they simply saying that the guys smart enough to get private sector jobs are doing better? I don’t imagine there are many ‘hot shot’ young lawyers who are content to make a PD salary.

    If that’s all they’re comparing then the study really is unsurprising in the same way that a guy who hires a top NASCAR mechanic tends to enjoy better maintenance that one who hires his sister’s friend’s niece’s cousin who ‘knows about cars’.

    I’m all in favour of the private sector, but it’s an diamonds and oranges comparison.

  14. I ordinarily support the privatization of virtually everything, but I do beleive the legal profession should be an exception. EVERYONE should have to use public defenders, always. Its the only way to guarantee some semblance of equality under the law. (Of source this would lead to subsitutes – e.g., paying someone who happens to know a lot about the law for “advising” you on your case, but I don’t think this enough to reject the proposal.) Commence pounding.

  15. This is an easy one.

    Step 1: put some teeth into the “ineffective assistance of counsel law.” (this is an existing piece of Constitutional law)

    Step 2: Under the new, more rigorous ineffective assistance of counsel law, defendants will get brand new jury trials.

    Step 3: Once a few thousand inmates are awarded new trials, study how they got their (ineffective) counsel in their faulty trials.

    Step 4: Once we have identified a few thousand specific cases of counsel so bad that the defendant gets a new trial we will have a much better rational, empiracal basis for making directed improvements to the system, instead of just attacking the perceived problem with our prejudices.

  16. “but I do beleive the legal profession should be an exception. EVERYONE should have to use public defenders”

    If we know that PD’s are not as good as the private sector, how is that not just enforcing poverty on the whole in the name of equality? It seems to me that getting it right in 50% of the cases is a lot better than getting it wrong on all of them.

  17. The legal profession is one big shake-down racket. The more you pay in protection money, the more protection you get. Naturally what you’re being protected from is other lawyers.

  18. I think it is probably impossible to ever truly make a reasonable comparison here.

    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that they really were comparing crimes that were very similar – say single homicides (1 victim, 1 alleged culprit, similar type of motive / means).

    I would guess, on average, that the defendant who has the means to hire an attorney, will be better educated, more articulate, have a stable job, and have people who can come in as good, solid character witnesses.

    In contrast, the person who cannot hire a private attorney, is less likely to share all of these attributes.

    I would also guess that the person who has the means to hire a private attorney, on average, has less or no criminal record than his counterpart in the study.

    So, in a case where the defendant is articulate (and thus makes a better impression on a jury if he testifies), can demonstrate that he is a stable and productive member of society, receives a better result than someone without these attributes is hardly surprising.

    thus, unless the study found a way to control for such variables (and I seriously doubt that it did), it does not tell us much.

    Although, with all of that said, it would not surprise me in the least to find that attorneys practicing privately are, on average, superior to public sector attorneys.

    But, even with that said, some private sector attorneys are much, much superior to other private sector attorneys. So, what is the answer? Do we find the very best criminal defense attorney in the country and have him/her defend every single criminal defendant, too ensure fairness?

  19. I’m not buying these conclusions. I’m a defense attorney in private practice, but I also take some court appointments. I don’t do it for the money particularly (my state pays VERY little for the work involved), but if you want to try serious felonies, it’s the only way to go.

    I know y’all will be shocked to learn that people facing significant prison time are not primarily from the middle and upper classes.
    People with public defenders are more likely to have a) prior convictions; b) unstable social/family networks; and c) unstable employment histories. All of these things are likely to result in a stiffer sentence. On the rare occasion that I have an upper middle class defendant, it is usually a wayward college student who got in over their head in the drug game. The usually have no significant criminal history, have familial support, and have access to alternate education and drug treatment facilities. They usually end up with a shorter sentence than the high school drop out who has out of wedlock children, no real job history, and (generally) prior convictions even though they committed the same crime.

    In my experience, public defenders are often quite good attorneys. There really is no substitute for courtroom experience, and they generally have more of that than their counterparts in private practice. They get a bad rap because they have caseloads that are frequently too large to be managed effectively and they often have the kind of clients that F. Lee Bailey couldn’t help.

  20. Warren, you are so right. I don’t know why we have prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, etc. We should just let the policeman decide on the spot who is guilty and what the proper punishment is.

  21. I like the system in John’s first comment.

  22. The legal profession is one big shake-down racket. The more you pay in protection money, the more protection you get. Naturally what you’re being protected from is other lawyers.

    Then maybe the answer is to make sure that the prosecuter’s office only gets as much money to prosecute a case as the defender lawyer gets to defend.

    Better yet, have the state choose both the lawyers at the beginning of the case and let the defendant choose which one of the two will represent the defendant and which will represent the State.

  23. John –
    there is no indication that the private defenders “got it right” 50% of the time – only that they are better at getting their clients off. Of course, no study was done to determine if the outcome of the case matched the true guilt or innocence of the defendant – if we could do that, we wouldn’t need trials.
    And yes, I beleive we should be willing to enforce pretty much anything in the name of equality, when it comes to criminal justice.

  24. in fact, if we made a rule that said that criminal prosecutor and criminal defendant could spend only the exact same amount on legal representation, then that would not just fix miscarriages of justices involving indigents, but also things like the OJ case.

  25. Alan,

    And yes, I beleive we should be willing to enforce pretty much anything in the name of equality, when it comes to criminal justice.

    The problem is, the only way to be truly equal, is to have the same judge, jury, prosecutor, and defense attorney for every criminal trial.

    Some defendants have a good PD and lousy DA, and vice versa; some have a more prosecution friendly judge; some have a more defense-friendly judge; some have a jury who is weary of the police; and some have pro-police juries.

    I’m not sure what system is better than what we currently have. “Privating” (i.e., having the court appoint an attorney not of the PD’s office, and then pay a statutory per-hour fee) would simply mean that some defendants get good defense attorneys, and some get those just out of law school. It won’t change anything. At least with the PD system, you generally have very experienced public defenders supervising and mentoring the newer, less experienced PDs.

    In this area, I’m not really sure what the answer is to ensure “fairness”. But, I have not seen anything on this post/comments that is better than the current system.

    – GB

  26. GB –

    Based on your 2nd to last paragraph, you seem to be advocating an all-PD system. You didn’t say what be wrong with that, or why it would be worse than the mixed systems we have now. Could you elaborate?
    I guess the best to hope for is a system where, given the facts of the case only, any defendant has an equal chance of receiving justice, regardless of class, wealth, race etc. I believe an all-PD system would do better at acheiving that than the current one.

  27. Obligatory Kids in the Hall quote:

    DAVE FOLEY: Free lawyer? The only lawyer I’m going to get for free is some guy with a head injury who can’t even find his briefcase.

  28. The results were surprising. The average sentence for clients of public defenders was almost three years longer than the average for clients of private lawyers.

    Yeah, very “surprising”, Judge. Does this judge live on our planet?

    Next time just save your money, Judge. Go down to the nearest county jail and ask the guys waiting for their case to come up. Those not facing capital charges and represented by a public defender will not have even seen a lawyer if their hearing isn’t the next day.

    In many jurisdictions they might as well stand a wooden Indian at the dock for free instead of a public defender. PD’s are well intentioned but swamped.

  29. I’d bet we’d get better judicial decisions if judgeships were privately contracted rather than public employees. Something tells me that is what really scares the shit out of most judges in this country when they hear of the experiments with “Muslim courts” in Canada. I don’t see a problem with the two sides in a case having to approve the presiding judge, but I’m sure the crappy judges sure don’t want to be treated as poorly as jurors.

  30. Alan,

    I don’t know is the honest answer. I believe strongly in the free enterprise system, and think in most things the gov’t is going to do a worse job than private enterprise. But, there are some exceptions. I think this may be one, but I don’t know all the potential systems out there that have been tried.

    But, my overall point is that outcome is not dependent entirely on the defense attorney. Some cases simply cannot be won. Some cases have terrible DA’s working on them (look at the OJ case, for instance). Sometimes the jurisdiction leads to a biased jury where the facts are simply not going to matter (OJ case again as example). There are going to be incompetent, corrupt and/or biased judges, witnesses, experts, police, etc. Who the defendant is makes a difference – educated, articulate, or the opposite? Stable, family man, or the opposite? Criminal record or no?

    So, claiming that whether the defense attorney is a privately hired attorney or a public defender is the only thing to count is simplistic. You can sometimes have the same facts argued the same way to 2 different juries and get opposite results. Difference judges will rule differently on the same set of facts.

    So, how do we ensure “equal” or “fair” treatment? I don’t know the answer.

    – GB

  31. I’d bet we’d get better judicial decisions if judgeships were privately contracted rather than public employees. Something tells me that is what really scares the shit out of most judges in this country when they hear of the experiments with “Muslim courts” in Canada. I don’t see a problem with the two sides in a case having to approve the presiding judge, but I’m sure the crappy judges sure don’t want to be treated as poorly as jurors.

    We already have this (private, contracted-for judges) in civil cases, it’s called arbitration. Any parties to a civil case can agree to binding arbitration rather than trial. The difference, of course, is that they are still applying the same law, not “islamic law”.

    And, you can get as many bad decisions from arbitrators as you get from judges.

  32. Perhaps I missed it, so I am still waiting with great anticipation for the post about how we don’t need lawyers because Ohio is not a State and there is fringe on most of the flags in courtrooms. I am pretty fuzzy on that one and need a refresher.

  33. Once again I am trolling as the sock puppets Libby Tarian and Arnie Rand, and you suckers have fallen for it. loosers.

  34. So, how do we ensure “equal” or “fair” treatment? I don’t know the answer.

    The answer is to make the money equal on both sides of the case, the defendant’s side and the state side. Since the government always funds the legal team for at least one side, and often funds the legal team for both sides, this is do-able.

    It would not make things perfectly fair.

    It would be a huge fairness improvement on the present system.

  35. The answer is to make the money equal on both sides of the case, the defendant’s side and the state side. Since the government always funds the legal team for at least one side, and often funds the legal team for both sides, this is do-able.

    It would not make things perfectly fair.

    It would be a huge fairness improvement on the present system.

    so you mean to say that if you can afford a private attorney, you cannot spend as much money as you want?

    I’m not sure I even know what you mean by this. Money spent from what point – the trial? Or, including the money spent on police in the first instance?

    What about money spent on DNA type evidence, which could also prove someone’s innocence. What if the prosecution decided NOT to test DNA, b/c they could prove their case with circumstantial evidence (which was done for years) and the defendant could not afford a DNA test of his own?

    Are you basing the $$ spent on attorney hours? Do both sides’ attorneys’ charge the same rate? What if the defense attorney is much more efficient and spends less time than the DA to do the same legal research? Do we put a cap on the amount of time either lawyer can put into the case?

    Do the police have to stop investigating b/c the cap has been reached. What if the lead they did not follow-up on would have proved the accused was innocent?

    Not sure this idea is workable. As far as $$ goes, most DA’s are paid the same as PD’s in my jurisdiction. 99% of trials aren’t the huge $$ trials like OJs that you seem to be thinking of. So, except for the big, high-profile trials, I’m not even sure the prosecution really spends that much more per trial than the PDs do.

    – GB

  36. Trying to frame the finding as an example of “government services bad, private services good” (at least in the traditional sense, i.e. the US Post Office v. FedEx) is something of an attempt to nail a square peg in a round hole. The problem is undoubtedly one of funding and limited resources. That is, a public defender is likely to make three times less than his private practice counterpart. Private law firms have far superior resources to conduct necessary trial preparation and the like. Private law firms can choose to turn away prospective clients if their current case loads don’t permit, whereas public defenders basically have to take anyone who shows up at the door.

    One possible solution is to do what New York City does by contracting with private attorneys to represent indigent clients. This solution still would not be ideal, because under these types of programs, the state usually pays out signficantly less than the private attorney’s usual billing rate. (Just noticed that another commenter made this point)

  37. so you mean to say that if you can afford a private attorney, you cannot spend as much money as you want?

    I would make the rule so that all prep work for trial counted when making the money equal. It would not count the amount taken to get the defendant into custody. It would count DNA tests and expensive witnesses.

    Yes, there would have to be some line drawing to separate the police work from the trial prep work to count the money accurately. yes, the prosecutor’s side might have to track and account specific expenditures more than they do now.

    To use your DNA example, if the state decided it wanted to rely on circumstantial evidence, then that would effectively limit how much the state had to contribute to the defendant’s defense. They would still have to give the defendant’s defense fund as much money as they spent developing the circumstantial evidence for trial. My thought is that this would amount to paying the defendant’s defense fund as way more than they do now. i read your comments as disagreeing, saying this would not change the amount spent on a typical circumstantial evidence case on pd’s. It doesn’t matter which of us is correct, my rule of legally enforced financial parity would work well in either case.

    To review how the Simpson case might play out: you could either:

    1. make a rule that Simpson’s expenditures simply mean that the state could spend as much on prosecution as Simpson did on defense (under my financial parity rule, I think there would be a lot of prosecutorial capacity ready, willing and able to fill that vacuum in a way there wasn’t in the real case as it was tried under the existing rules).

    OR

    2. You could put a ceiling on defendant’s expenditures.

    Either way. It is not fair for the prosecutors to use their financial advantages to get convictions anymore than it is fair for Simpson to use his wealth to buy acquittals.

  38. Not sure this idea is workable. As far as $$ goes, most DA’s are paid the same as PD’s in my jurisdiction.

    Under the system you describe here, the billing rates are equal.

    Under my proposal, the billings are what must be kept equal. Different thing. If the DA and the PD billing rates really are equal, then my system would further prescribe that each lawyer would bill an equal number of hours. that is definitely not required under the present system.

  39. Comparison between private and government attorneys is impossible. Lawyers in private practice are pushing malpractice if they have more than 60 cases per year, while those of us in government practice get that many files in two months. I left a job where I ran a caseload of more than 1,000 cases per year. The vast majority closed without further action, but even closing a file involves spending an hour writing a memo and closure letter to the person who complained and the defendant. Public defenders and criminal prosecutors won’t have that many cases, but they’ll have a couple hundred per year, usually with jury trials, which adds another layer of preparation and time sinks. Believe me, time is vital in getting good representation, and if you find out the morning of the first hearing that the case is yours, and meet the defendant an hour before that, you won’t do much of a job.

    Also, county commissioners have exactly zero interest in providing funding for indigent defendants, because they are 1. indigent, and 2. criminals. County commissioners are elected, and being nice to criminals isn’t really big with the voters. (Any other fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation might remember the Cardassian defense lawyers, whose purpose was to reconcile the defendant to being killed. County commissioners would mostly prefer that kind of PD.

    It’s also important to remember that in this country, most people who get arrested are in fact guilty of something. It may not be a good law they violated, but they pretty much always violated something. The issue, as Travis County District Court Judge John Dietz is fond of saying, is whether the defendant is 5 years guilty or 15 years guilty. (A friend who does criminal defense work said the most horrible case he ever tried was defending a woman who was, in fact, actually innocent. Really innocent, as in not involved in the crime at all, just an unlucky neighbor. He managed to get her acquitted, but it nearly killed him with stress.) Of course, the difference between 5 and 15 years in prison is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s still a vastly different matter from someone who isn’t guilty of anything going to jail.

    Finally, prosecution really isn’t suited to privatizing. Jane Jacobs, in Systems of Survival, presented the best arguments about why this is so, and I commend those arguments to you. Also, the best solution to this problem is exactly what Hit and Run does, shining lights on bad cases and educating the public to the importance to our freedoms of due process in criminal law.

  40. I should point out that I was not a DA or a public defender, I was a civil fraud prosecutor, working for the agency that governs used car dealers in Texas. The fact that I got through six years of that without becoming completely misanthropic is one of God’s miracles.

  41. It’s also important to remember that in this country, most people who get arrested are in fact guilty of something.

    That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have as much money to defend themselves as the state has to prosecute them. If these people are so clearly guilty, then the state can take half its litigation warchest dedicated to the case, and give it to the defendant and still win.

    That is what should happen.

    If giving half the warchest to the defendant and the defendants start winning more often, all it means to me is that people aren’t as guilty as you have been lead to believe, Karen.

    Also, I am not saying that case filing numbers have to be equal over da’s and pd’s taken as a whole. Rather, my proposal is that for each and every case, the state resources (including “overhead”) dedicated to that case should be evenly split between prosecution and defense. I know that prosecutors get more money than defendants do now. How do I know this?

    Because it is pro-prosecution ppl who oppose my fair funding-parity proposal. That is what tells me how the funding goes now.

    As far as your argument that my proposal would not be politically popular:

    no, sh*t, Sherlock, but that ain’t what fairness is all about. Just because the status quo is popular is no reason to support it. I mean, do you support Social Security, Karen?

  42. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have as much money to defend themselves as the state has to prosecute them. If these people are so clearly guilty, then the state can take half its litigation warchest dedicated to the case, and give it to the defendant and still win.

    I think you are under a major misconception as to how much money the prosecution spends on the average case. As I said previously, your rules may make some difference in the really big, high profile cases. Other than that, all you are doing is adding another layer of beauracracy, cost, and time into the system.

    DAs are just as overworked as PDs. they generally will look at a case they are prosecuting for the first time 1 hour before the first hearing, if that soon, just like PDs. In 99% of cases, expensive experts, tests, etc are simply not used. They face the same problem getting witnesses to show up and testify as PDs. DAs are paid as little at PDs. Most ADAs are right out of law school. Only a few of the “top” people in any DA’s office have been practicing law longer than 5 years.

    It is simply not a question of the “state” spending huge amounts more money than the defense in the vast majority of prosecutions. Unless you are counting the cost of having a police department and investigating crimes in the first instance.

    – GB

  43. It is simply not a question of the “state” spending huge amounts more money than the defense in the vast majority of prosecutions. Unless you are counting the cost of having a police department and investigating crimes in the first instance.

    here is the rule of thumb: if the evidence shows up at trial, then it is considered as a prosecution expenditure and the defendant must get parity. For example, an expensive forensic DNA test that will show up at trial, counts against the budget. An expensive DNA test that will not show up at trial, does not count.

    In this example, the idea is that an expensive DNA test will cost a lot to debunk (or endered irrelevant or non-probative) if it is incorrect. If the prosecution does not use the DNA test, then it does not have to be debunked or rendered non-probative.

    Just getting the idea of non-probativeness accross to a jury is hard and generally requires a dedicated, well-paid, highly educated explainer.

    This kind of financial rough justice should be applied not narrowly to DNA test evidence, but rather on a case by case basis, across the whole range of expenditures that go into developing the evidence that shows up in court (perhaps not mere grand jury, evidence, but certainly any evidence that will show up at the constitutionally mandated trial).

    the fact that you are arguing the impossibility of having prosecutors track their budgets on a case by case basis suggests that there are not any real objections to my idea.

  44. the fact that you are arguing the impossibility of having prosecutors track their budgets on a case by case basis suggests that there are not any real objections to my idea.

    No, I am trying to politely point out that it is a fairly useless idea that not only will accomplish nothing, but will make the whole system much more expensive.

    Is it impossible to do? Probably not. Does that mean it is a good idea? No. As I pointed out, it is not.

    Also, your idea as to what would be counted in the prosecution budget is ludicrous. “if it shows up as evidence”. So, when the police officer testifies, do we count his salary? Do we count his health insurance and pension benefits? If the dna test was done before charges were brought, in order to identify a suspect, we must now include that in the prosecution’s budget? How does that make sense?

    What about forensics? What about the money spent on tip lines? What about the cost of 911 – as most crimes are first reported there?

    Basically, your idea is to take all the money spent investigating a crime, tally it up (again, does that include the money spent on salaries, police vehicles that took the officers to the scene, etc.?), and give it over to the defense to spend. Because all of the things discovered by the police in investigating crime would likely come into evidence.

  45. Also, your idea as to what would be counted in the prosecution budget is ludicrous. “if it shows up as evidence”. So, when the police officer testifies, do we count his salary?

    we count the part of his salary dedicated to doing the things that the police officer testifies about in court.

    For example, if the actual physical arrest of the suspect is not mentioned in the trial (as it usually is not), then that is not part of the prosecution budget.

    OTOH, if the police officer was collecting fingerprints that he later testifies about in court, then that collection time would count.

    the idea is that police officers sometimes lie about fingerprints, but it is expensive to build a case to get people to believe that the police are lying. If the state pays to get the fingerprints, it is only fair that it pays an equal amount to try to rebut the fingerprint evidence. otherwise, bad fingerprint evidence doesn’t get rebutted and innocent people end up getting convicted.

    Money matters.

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