The Catholic University of America

CUA Law Professor Mary Graw Leary was quoted in a May 12 article published by the Catholic News Agency entitled "How being poor wrecks your chances of good legal representation."  See below.

How being poor wrecks your chances of good legal representation

Catholic News Agency
May 12, 2016
By Matt Hadro

. . .
When poor people are accused of a crime and are unable to secure adequate legal assistance, it is absolutely a social justice issue that Catholics should be concerned about, Mary Leary, another law professor at Catholic University, said.

“This speaks to the Catholic social justice issues of dignity and the common good,” she told CNA. “And neither of those are advanced when we have ill-funded public defenders, or public defenders working under impossible conditions.”
. . .
Leary acknowledged there may be an overall disparity in funding but cautioned against the notion that all prosecutorial offices have access to the resources they need. There have been rape cases where a prosecutors’ office in a big city couldn’t perform vital DNA testing because the state wouldn’t pay for it, she noted. “Those are real pressures that, to this day, exist,” she said.
. . .
In some states and localities, prosecutors already have law enforcement and state crime laboratories at their disposal in cases, although this is not the case everywhere Leary noted. Only nine percent of employees in state prosecutors’ offices are investigators, according to 2007 numbers by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
. . .
“In terms of the common good, then you might have a situation where the offender is, in fact, guilty, but is not held accountable, not because he was found innocent…but because the system was able to be worked by a defendant with money,” Leary said. “It’s a real problem from a public safety standpoint.”

“The problem with our system is that it hurts the poor,” she continued.

Ultimately, the whole legal system needs to be funded, not just public defense, she insisted, “so that everybody has their dignity – criminal defendants, witnesses, and victims. That everybody has their dignity.”

“And only through that can we really get at a system that achieves justice.”


To read the full article click here


Mary G. Leary   

Professor Mary G. Leary's
Areas of Expertise

Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Technology

Exploitation of children and women

Human Trafficking

For additional information about our professors' areas of speciality, see the Catholic University Experts page.