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Sunday, April 4, 2004
About this project

Ken Armstrong, Florangela Davila and Justin Mayo
Editor: Jacqui Banaszynski
Desk editor: Julie Hanson
Photographer: Ken Lambert
Photo editor: Fred Nelson
Graphics coordinator:
Whitney Stensrud
Print designer: Denise Clifton
Online producer:
Tracy Cutchlow
Online designer:
Carlin Pressnall
Special report fulfills a promise to serve as voice
for the voiceless

Justice in America stands on fundamental principles such as the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial, but for many poor people in Washington state, there is no justice.

This special report, "The Empty Promise of an Equal Defense," tells a shameful story of justice denied because the public-defense system in our state is so inadequate. It has been this way for decades and may be getting worse.

King County is an exception and possibly a model for what could be done, but in most other counties, the problems are acute and chronic. Public-defense lawyers are underpaid and overworked, and the system in some counties practically guarantees inadequate legal representation for poor defendants.

Reporters Ken Armstrong, Florangela Davila and Justin Mayo have pulled together a compelling report. Their effort began last spring when Armstrong had lunch with an attorney who told him how the system creates a financial disincentive for lawyers to work very hard for indigent clients.

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