Indigent Murkiness

Tom Jackman

of the Washington Post has more on why Richard Goemann, executive director of the Indigent Defense Commission, was pushed into resigning on Friday, but it’s still a murky situation. Steve Minor had asked, “Where’s the beef?” over at Commonwealth Conservative, then posted an item about the controversy on his always useful SW Virginia Law Blog.

From Jackman, we learned that “some public defenders complained that Goemann’s executive offices in Richmond expanded while resources were denied to struggling public defender offices in the field.” But then he quoted Sen. Kenneth Stolle, R-VA Beach, as saying Goemann’s departure was “not based strictly on budget issues — it just had to do with what was best for indigent defense.” Stolle couldn’t say more because of “confidentiality rules on personnel matters.”

Commission member Steven Benjamin said “This is not directed at Richard. The commission has made bad decisions about the allocation of taxpayer money. More should be going to the field or public defenders, and less should be going to administration and frills in the central office.”

There you have it. The commission made bad decisions, so Goemann had to go.


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  1. subpatre Avatar

    Will said, “…. The commission made bad decisions, so Goemann had to go.

    Perhaps one of the commission’s bad decisions was retaining Prof. Goemann. No matter how they slice it, $27k per office doesn’t buy much service, especially of lawyers’ fees.

    Oops, that’s exactly what the American bar Association said in their 2004 report that lead to the General Assembly creating the Commission…. but not increasing funding.
    (1) The Virginia General Assembly should fund indigent criminal defense services in cases requiring appointment of counsel at a level that assures that all indigent defendants receive effective and meaningful representation.

    According to the ABA, Virginia’s indigent funding caps are the lowest in the entire nation. The executive summary can be found here. It doesn’t make the state look good.

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