Quantcast
  

Friday, April 18, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 3 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Public defender's office lacks resources to pick up all cases

By Associated Press

POSTED:



HILO » The federal public defender's office in Hono­lulu has turned down a Hilo man's wire fraud case, the first refusal of potentially others because of automatic budget cuts, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

First Assistant Federal Defender Alexander Silvert said in a motion filed in court this week that his office doesn't have the resources to defend Justin Wade Smith, 32, who is accused of scamming investors of more than $1 million.

Silvert said his office has notified the court that it will refuse to take certain cases.

The office has laid off some attorneys and staff, while its caseload has increased, he told the newspaper.

"Given that, sequestration hasn't seemed to have any effect on the prosecution side of the equation," Silvert said. "They're fully staffed and they keep bringing more cases. It's a tragedy and it's a travesty of justice, and quite frankly, the politicians are at fault for this."

Sequestration refers to the automatic federal budget cuts that went into effect March 1.

According to the indictment, Smith claimed to be a trust-fund heir who needed money from others to access his inheritance. He allegedly promised investment returns to those who provided money for so-called "advance fees."

The indictment also alleges he purported to represent a law enforcement agency, promising investors sizable returns from law enforcement seizures.

A judge will appoint a private attorney to represent Smith at taxpayers' expense.

Smith is scheduled for trial next month on 39 counts of wire fraud. He is being held without bail.

If convicted, Smith could face up to 20 years in prison.

Defending Smith would require hiring forensic accountants, tracking down witnesses, poring over thousands of pages of discovery and paying airfare for investigators to travel to Hawaii island, Silvert said.

 

"We feel bad that we can't represent Mr. Smith and people like him because that's what we're supposed to do," he said. "But we're just in a situation now where we've got to do what we can do with limited resources that we have, and we have to make choices."






 Print   Email   Comment | View 3 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(3)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
palani wrote:
"Given that, sequestration hasn't seemed to have any effect on the prosecution side of the equation," Silvert said. "They're fully staffed and they keep bringing more cases. It's a tragedy and it's a travesty of justice, and quite frankly, the politicians are at fault for this."

Agree, this has nothing to do with "sequestration". It's all about opportunistic politicians making us feel the pain of their displeasure, in a manner one step above a temper tantrum.


on August 29,2013 | 05:40AM
boshio wrote:
So the tax payers has the burden to pay for his defense? Isn't the tax payers footing the bill either way? Seems lately Hawaii is coming up with a lot of undesirables to support.
on August 29,2013 | 10:15AM
frontman wrote:
Yet the prosecutor can waste a million going after a trial against a innocent white man.
on August 29,2013 | 01:33PM
IN OTHER NEWS
Latest News/Updates