Our disgusting legal system.
Is this normal pay for a public defender ? Insane system. Yes I deserve a lawyer when charged, appointed by the court if I can not afford one. But 1.1 million dollars worth ?????
1.1 million does sound like an awful lot for taxpayers to pay in Loughner's defense when he was so obviously guilty of committing those crimes, but truthfully, an hourly rate of $178 per hour in a capitol murder case; six cold blooded murders and the wounding of 13 others including a Congress person, is probably not that out of line when you consider that that probably does not represent just what the two lawyers were paid in salary, but for their total costs and overhead; that of the law clerks, the paralegals, their legal research time, the costs of hiring medical and psychiatric experts that testified as to Loughner's mental state and Loughner being schizophrenic, the costs associated with filing all the court motions over the course of several years or more. His defense was trying to and successfully got Loughner seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges in the shootings when he could have gotten the death penalty.
Am I happy about tax payers footing the bill to the tune of 1.1 million dollars in Loughner defense? No. Not really. Do I think that total cost is excessive? Im not sure as I dont know what all those costs entail or what an equivalent private defense would cost nor do I know how much the prosecution spent either, but Im pretty sure it cost at least that much or more. Do I think Loughner should have gotten the death penalty while I support the death penalty, in this case, no, I do not.
But everyone needs to keep in mind that the other side of this coin is that if you or I are charged with a crime, especially a major felony or capitol crime, either by the state or by the federal government, remember that the state and federal government has in essence unlimited resources at their hand in order to mount a prosecution. You or I on the other hand, while we have the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, in reality unless we are very wealthy or find very good private attorney willing to take up our case pro-bono, we are pretty much at a great disadvantage when it comes to mounting a defense against the vast resources of the government (also BTW, tax payer funded) and how many times are my and your tax dollars used to prosecute people who have committed no crime at all, are falsely accused or have only committed crimes only on paper, i.e. cases where someone has only violated some obscure federal regulation (think EPA, IRS, etc.).
As insane as our legal system seems sometimes, personally I would rather side on paying for the competent legal defense of someone, even if presumably guilty, who cannot afford private legal counsel, rather than to allow the state to railroad the convictions of those who may not be guilty or who may not deserve the death penalty due to true mental illness just because they dont have the personal wealth to fund a competent defense.
FWIW, I also feel the same way about prosecution and or police misconduct. While sometimes very bad people are let off due to procedural technicalities, Id rather see a very few guilty people go free than have truly innocent people rot in jail or worse due to abuses of government powers. In other words if the police can mishandle evidence, lie about evidence or a prosecutor hides evidence, even when the accused has prior convictions for similar crimes and is most likely guilty, if they (the state) can use those methods to convict the guilty, they can also use those very same methods to convict the innocent.