Orleans Parish might make Kafka blush. After being arrested in Orleans Parish, a defendant is brought before a magistrate for an initial appearance to receive formal notice of the charges and for setting of bond. State law also requires that a lawyer be appointed to represent the defendant if he or she is indigent. In practice, the court may as well appoint a mayfly. If the defendant cannot make bail, in all likelihood he won’t see or speak to a lawyer again until trial. He has no one to advise him, conduct an investigation, or tell him when he will be going to court. There are untold numbers of such inmates from Orleans Parish sitting in jail waiting (months and sometimes much longer) to speak to someone, anyone really.
Student volunteers are on their way. Waves of them, in fact. (Or locust swarms, if you’re asking the Sheriff.) In conjunction with the Student Hurricane Network, law students from around the country are spending their winter breaks to fan out across Louisiana to interview inmates, create client files, and help queue them up for effective legal representation. The students must depend entirely on their own dime for travel, accommodations, and expenses. (They are not too proud for your donations!) If the State cannot and will not address its own problems, at least we know we can rely on the generosity of indefatigable student volunteers to save the day. Kafka’s Josef K. never had it so good.