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We Are Public Defenders[1]

We Are Public Defenders[1]

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Published by Janelle Lawrence
Attorney Stephanie Page writes about her 34 years as a public defender in Massachusetts. Among her clients were serial killer Gary Lee Sampson, a dominatrix exonerated of disposing of the body of a client who had a heart attack during a sex session, and Neil Entwistle who was convicted of killing his wife and baby daughter.
Attorney Stephanie Page writes about her 34 years as a public defender in Massachusetts. Among her clients were serial killer Gary Lee Sampson, a dominatrix exonerated of disposing of the body of a client who had a heart attack during a sex session, and Neil Entwistle who was convicted of killing his wife and baby daughter.

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Published by: Janelle Lawrence on Dec 30, 2011
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01/14/2014

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WE ARE PUBLIC DEFENDERS December 30, 2011
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We are Public Defenders.I was fortunate to have joined the Massachusetts Defenders Committee at a time when therewere lots of jury trials, probable cause hearings and de novo bench trials.I was very lucky to have started with people like Jay Carney and Janice Bassil.I was fortunate to have been trained by someone like John Prescott.I was very lucky to watch and learn from lawyers like Judith Lindahl, who tirelesslyfought day after day on behalf of their clients.What I learned from them, and countless others, and continued to learn from you, is:That being a Public Defender is the best thing in the world.That being a Public Defender isn’t just a job but a way of life.That being a Public Defender means not just being a lawyer but being a lawyer whomakes a difference.We do that every day. You do that every day.It is one of us who restores dignity to someone who has absolutely no hope – like BobTutino in challenging the conditions of the DDU in Walpole where it seems torturingprisoners is the sport of the day. That gives us all dignity.It is one of us who continues, case after case, hopeless cause after cause – like CarolDonovan and now the SORB/SDP/ACU lawyers – to wage the battle to safeguard theconstitutional rights to all of our clients, no matter how unpopular they are. That makesus all stronger.It will be one of us who will creatively figure out how to deal with the fallout of theZanetti case – that realistically substitutes the required intent to commit a crime withmerely being present – relieving the prosecution of its burden of proof. One of us willfigure it out because we have too.We are the Public Defenders.Not many people can do what we do. Not many lawyers either.We are the ones who walk into court day after day.
 
WE ARE PUBLIC DEFENDERS December 30, 2011
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We are the ones who represent people charged with, among others, the most serious of crimes.We do not turn people away because they may be charged with a crime that is notpopular or politically correct.We are the ones who believe that everyone is entitled to the same constitutionalprotections. Not just the rich. Not just the famous. But the most needy of us all.Because we are the Public Defenders.We are proud to give the best representation to all of our clients, whether they are chargedwith a larceny or a murder, because they deserve it.We bring the strength of all of us to help the one of us who stands beside a client and betweenthe prosecution and a prison cell.The client, who even though innocent, is treated like dirt by everyone in the system –except us.The client whose life may be in peril merely because of the nature of the charge itself –which may later turn out to be untrue.The client, whose liberty is taken away pretrial, as a result of a baseless charge.The client, who feels lost and without hope – until he meets us - the Public Defender.As long as we are here, as you are here, we will not let the system, the judges or theprosecutors treat our clients like a number, a faceless file or some nonhuman entity that iseasily disposable. We will not allow this to happen. We will stand up. Through us, our clientsand the Constitution will be heard.The Public Defender.Sure: There are times when we can’t imagine how everything that we need to do will get done – but it does.There are times when we can’t imagine how we are going to survive the day – but wedo.There are times when we can’t imagine how we will win the seemingly impossible caseswe need to win – but we win.
 
WE ARE PUBLIC DEFENDERS December 30, 2011
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Why? Because we are the Public Defenders.Our days are never boring, they are never the same. No matter how many times we have trieda case you can count on something unanticipated happening.There will always be battles. Some will be predictable – like the death penalty. Some will takeus by surprise – like the lawyer who shows up for trial and is handed a police report with theirname in it for intimidating a witness merely because they had investigated their case in themost professional way. But we will always be there. We will not go away. We must rememberthat:Our strength comes from our willingness to fight even when the odds areoverwhelmingly against us.Our strength comes from our passion to see the battle end in justice for our clients.Our strength is in one another as we stand shoulder to shoulder. We as individuals andour clients benefit from this.That is what I have learned from you and those before you.We are Public Defenders.Nobody does this better.You know it.Believe it.I thank you for that.Stephanie PageSenior Trial CounselPublic Defender1978 – December 30, 2011

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