Dear Board of Public Defense,
As the Managing Partner of a law office in Washington D.C., a second year member of the board which overseers the Public Defender Service of the District Columbia and as a former public defender, I write to implore you to not dismantle the Lafayette Public Defender’s Office.
I am honored to say that I personally know many of these amazing lawyers in this office. As a member of the Gideon’s Promise faculty, I know that the lawyers of Lafayette have worked tirelessly to master the tools that they need to provide quality representation to the indigent people in this Parish. I have seen these lawyers give their complete heart and soul in an effort to ensure that indigent clients are zealously represented. I truly believe that this wonderful effort has been instrumental in making sure that the poor people of Lafayette Parish are treated with honesty, respect and dignity at all points in the criminal justice system.
As a member of a board which oversees the Public Defender’s office in D.C., I understand the stressors associated with meeting a budget. I have shared the difficult task of having to decide what can stay versus what must go. I know the difficulty in deciding on employees, programs and office structure. It can truly be challenging, exhausting and downright painful. However, when we agree to be members of these boards, we promise to fulfill the TRUE mission of the agency that we seek to govern. By becoming members of these boards, we pledge to protect the people that they support and we promise to do what is best for the entire organization as a whole.
I thus implore you to not lose the opportunity that you hold with the Lafayette office. Preservation of this office and the lawyers that work there will send a loud message to the State. It will let all of residents of the State know that you care about justice for the residents and the spirit of the Constitution. It will send a clear message that you are invested in the community of poor people of Lafayette Parish and that you believe that they deserve quality representation in the courtroom. By keeping the office open and operating, you will be preserving the office mission to protect those that need them the most.
Please do all that you can to ensure that this amazing office of committed attorneys stays open and continues to save lives. The office has my unconditional support and I pray that you allow the office to persevere in its commitment to the due administration of justice. Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns. Sincerely,
Heather Pinckney, Esq.