Here is a good article the reveals the unseen prejudices in our justice system. Look for new commentary from us shortly, the link will also be shared here. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/03/19/law-enforcement-clue-jury-criminal-column/6490641
Balancing the Scales of Justice
Indigent cases are difficult and they are taxpayer funded - resources and funding are very low. On average, the investigator might get $35 per hour. That may seem like a lot - but most expenses are not covered and this is contractual, self-employed. So, 15% in self-employment taxes, federal and state income taxes (not withheld), licenses and insurance, and overhead - and a lot of billing is forgiven because it won't be compensated (it can take 10 hours to review discovery, that could be the whole budget. Witnesses might not be interviewed, etc.
Yet, the prosecution - also taxpayer funded - has the resources and funding of law enforcement, training, experts, facilities, testing, and investigators - dozens of people.
Our agency has provided the only investigative support and expert consultations in several cases. This while the prosecution seems shocked at the extravagant fees being paid (a very small fraction of any standard investigative or expert fees) - yet, they have their own unlimited resources that never come into question. Furthermore, these expenses and resources do not need the approval of the court.
How could this be balanced? Test a jurisdiction with this:
-- Budget for the defense and prosecution are the same;
-- Resources for the defense and prosecution are the same by equal access.
-- Defense should not be required to accept only the discovery from prosecution, but able to get evidence independently (records, reports and photographs, etc.) from the same sources as the prosecution.
When the prosecution begins telling how unfair it is, then further discussions can be made.