Saturday, October 07, 2017

Mocking Justice

Cutting the People's Protection Budget by $10 Million
NC Attorney General Josh Stein
What the Republican bosses in the North Carolina General Assembly have been laying on the Attorney General's office is spit and shit. Pure spitefulness, vindictiveness, revenge, and hyper partisanship ... dropped on the head of a young attorney general whose cardinal sin was winning an election.

Josh Stein was elected attorney general last fall in the same wave with Roy Cooper (accompanied by the ouster of failed Governor Pat McCrory). Promptly in January and seconds after convening a new session of the General Assembly, the Republican Power Grab Twins Phil Berger and Tim Moore moved to cut the Democratic attorney general's budget by $10 million. Ten million dollars. Stein ended up being forced to lay off 45 employees including many staff attorneys.... the three lawyers with the most experience and expertise for handling criminal appeals of convicted child sex offenders; (2) an attorney with 30 years experience specializing in water quality violations; (3) several other lawyers delegated to handle claims of negligence by government agencies; (4) experts on the tobacco settlement, which actually brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the state's General Fund each year.

The AG is mandated by law to (1) assist local law enforcement in fighting crime and prosecuting cases (including the staffing and functioning of the NC State Crime Lab and the NC Justice Academy; (2) provide training and standards for law enforcement at the county-level, which includes overseeing the Sheriffs' Standards Training Commission and the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission; (3) protect North Carolina consumers from frauds and scams (a big job by itself).

NC House Speaker Tim Moore and
NC Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger
Because of the lay-offs, there's already word percolating out of district courts that child support and sex offender cases are being delayed. So is the handling of criminal appeals, which arrive by the hundreds in the AG's office each year.

Read more here:
Wanna keep that dangerous offender behind bars? Then don't cripple the ability of the AG to keep him there.

Way to go, Berger and Moore, you stand-up guys for law and order!

Time Out To Celebrate Another Irony 
The AG's office is also mandated to "provide legal representation to state agencies," which means incidentally defending certain hair-brain laws passed by the NC General Assembly. Thus cutting the AG's budget looks so much like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Berger actually justified his surprise budget cuts by alleging that AG Josh Stein was doing a poor job defending the Gen'l Assembly's laws, so, yes, the budget cut was punishment, admitted Berger. Which begs the question: Slash his budget and make him do even worse?

Such is civic logic in the age of MAGA.

The Latest Nastiness
When Josh Stein was announcing the staff lay-offs in August, he warned everyone that the budget cut would force his office to shift some of the criminal appeal work to district attorneys. Many district attorneys are Republican, and they didn't like the sound of that.

So a new mandate got tucked into a larger budget-related bill (passed in the special session this week) which will prohibit Josh Stein from pushing criminal appeal work down to local district attorneys. "You have to do everything yourself, in your own little weakened and under-staffed department," says the provision, which still has to be signed by the governor. He won't sign it.

A people's indictment of Berger and Moore will be available for your approval in the General Elections of 2018. We already have a sterling alternative to BergerMoore soldier Rep. Jonathan Jordan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Williamson, you missed this: The most recent provision that you mention at the end, specifically prohibiting the AG from delegating criminal appeals to district attorneys, is very likely unconstitutional on the face of it: