I admit, I have never seen a black female public defender in any of the criminal justice systems I have been involved with. No stranger to the criminal justice system in various states throughout the country, it was here in Rockford, during a recent court appearance, that I finally encountered a black female public defender on the other side of the judicial system. Her name is not important. What is important is for me to report that I felt she was overburdened and taxed on the day I had court, so much so that half of her morning cases were pushed to the afternoon docket. I was one of those cases. She had no help until the afternoon, and from this witness’s perspective, she was mistreated and unfairly ridiculed in the presence of other attorneys and clients. Was this done to make her a stronger attorney? Is this the way Winnebago County conducts its rites of passage into its exclusive judicial club?
Without bludgeoning the court system to death, I testify that the public defender mentioned handled the stress with the grace of a seasoned soldier, setting the foundation for those alike to follow.
From the Nov. 9-15, 2011, issue