To the Louisiana State Public Defender Board,
I became a public defender because of my experience in China. I lived there for almost two years during college. I studied the language and am fluent in Mandarin. But during my time there, and as part of my studies, I saw such routine, callous, and cruel injustice in China that I decided to dedicate my life to preventing America from becoming like China.
China does not have the constitutional protections that the United States is supposed to have. Attorneys in China are routinely jailed for trying to help defendants. Judges excoriate defense attorneys for trying to help defendants. Rather than a presumption of innocence, anyone who tries to help the accused is considered guilty by association. One such attorney, Ni Yulan, who tried to defend the poor and helpless was jailed herself. While in jail, she was raped, beaten, tortured, and crippled. She can no longer walk.
As a public defender, I try to prevent such injustice on an individual level. I thought that working as a public defender was the best way to prevent such abuses of power from ever happening in the United States. I have worked at the 15th JD Public Defender’s office for a year and a half now. It has been the best experience of my life. Fighting to help the poor is what I want to do for the rest of my life. But if Louisiana will not fund public defense, then we are little better than China. Many attorneys in China work part time and handle all of their cases pro bono. The United States should be better than that.
Paul Marx has created an incredible office in Lafayette. Just in the last year, I have seen incredible improvements in the justice system here. I have the utmost respect for the attorneys in my office. But if I am laid off, I do not have the financial ability to wait for the situation to improve. I will have to apologize to my clients for abandoning them. I will continue to fight for the poor and helpless, to preserve our constitutional rights. But it will not be in Lafayette.
Assistant Public Defender
15th Judicial District Public Defender’s Office