Friday, February 15, 2008

Court-appointed lawyer has to resign

The San Jose paper just announced:
The owner of the for-profit firm representing low-income clients in Santa Clara County's dependency court announced his resignation to his staff this week, two days after a Mercury News investigation revealed his firm's timid advocacy for parents facing the loss of their children.

In an emotional meeting Wednesday, Gary Proctor told employees in his San Jose office that he would not bid for future contracts with the Superior Court, according to four participants in the meeting. Through his firm, Santa Clara Juvenile Defenders, Proctor has held the contract in the county for a decade. ...

Critics of Juvenile Defenders, including attorneys who have worked for the firm, say the lawyers have been discouraged from defending parents aggressively when that advocacy costs money, such as using experts or investigators. Pay for attorneys is low and turnover in the office is high. And appellate lawyers throughout the state say the Santa Clara County parent lawyers do not fight to protect their client's rights to appeal unfavorable trial court rulings.

What's more, the Mercury News has learned, some services promised in Proctor's contracts with the local Superior Court appear not to have been provided.
In case you think that lawyers had an attack of conscience, the greedy vultures are preparing to just demand more money!
Other supervisors in the firm told the staff that they intend to submit their own bid for the next contract and will request more money from the court for experts, investigators and attorney salaries.
This is amazing, and it is a good start, but the court problems run much deeper than Proctor. The court-appointed lawyer in our case, James M. Ritchey, had many of the same problems as Gary Proctor. I don't see any sign that Jim Ritchey will be forced to clean up his act.

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