CONTROVERSIAL ALLEGATIONS MADE BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AGAINST MINISTERS AGAINST CRIME – WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?
It was two weeks ago when Houston’s Ministers Against Crime announced their plans to push for a Public Defenders office in Harris County. The religious coalition says the current system in place just doesn’t work. Currently, in Harris County, if an indigent defendant can’t afford an attorney they’re appointed counsel by the courts. But there is no Public Defender like in some other major metro areas around the state and country. The Ministers say as a result – the appointed lawyers are not truly fighting for their poor defendants. They claim the attorneys are plea bargaining the defendants freedom away. So after attending the Ministers Against Crime press conference The Insite took the proposal to Harris County District attorney Chuck Rosenthal. He said it didn’t matter one way or the other to him but he believed a Public Defender’s Office would be an extra financial burden on Harris County taxpayers. But Rosenthal didn’t stop there. He went on to say while he respected the Ministers Against Crime he was disappointed in their actions. Rosenthal alleged the ministers who came to him to meet about the proposed Public Defender’s office asked how could they get paid off a component of the program that would require community groups to mentor individuals who are placed on probation by judges. Rosenthal said that “shocked” him. The veteran d-a said he thought they were all supposed to be in this together to help the community but the ministers wanted to know how they could personally benefit off the backs of taxpayers. Now, fast forward two weeks. The Ministers Against Crime came back to The Insite on Thursday to deny the allegations. They sat in the FOX 26 studios and watched Rosenthals entire unedited interview and they were hot when they were done. Reverend Robert Jefferson said he had a few choice words for Rosenthal and called the allegation the d-a made an outright lie. He says the ministers never once asked to be paid. And now the battle rages on…What do you feel about this situation? Do you think the ministers asked to be paid or do you believe Rosenthal is trying to muddy the issue to prevent a Public Defender’s office?
Note: It would take action by the Harris County Commissioners and the state legislature to create a Public Defender’s office!