The Sun-Times editorial board finally wrote something everybody should agree with, linked here. “Do the time, then we’ll decide if you’ve done the crime.” That’s how they describe what’s become of due process for indigent defendants in Illinois.
“A legal backlog has grown so lengthy that some defendants are getting hearings on their appeals only after they have already completed their sentences…. [L]awyers in the office have uncovered many egregious examples of innocent people who were wrongfully convicted.”
The editorial goes on:
It can take close to three years or more for a ruling from an appellate court if the opening brief isn’t filed for 21 months. Most defendants have finished serving their sentences by then.
Last week, the Injustice Watch website cited two cases in which defendants had completed sentences of seven and 10 years, taking into account day-for-day credit, before the appellate court ruled in their favor.
We’ve long written here that fundamental rights of indigent defendants were the first things chopped in our fiscal crisis. Nobody cares.
-Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.