The judges in Lowndes County have decided not to reappoint public defenders Carrie Jourdan and William Starks. Judge Kitchens says its because the judges were getting complaints from inmates at the jail that they were not getting visits from the pds at the jail. In the Columbus Dispatch, Carrie Jourdan says she visited her pd clients at the courthouse because it was more convenient. She states that she knew she would not be reappointed after she came out on Facebook in support of Scott Colom’s effort to unseat DA Forrest Allgood (which was successful!). Kitchens was an assistant DA under Allgood. Who can forget this? If anyone questions the Judge’s commitment to seeing that indigent criminal defendants are adequately represented, who can blame them?
You can read about it in the Dispatch here.
But Jourdan said not getting reappointed did not come as a surprise. She said she was told a month ago by a colleague that Kitchens was not going to reappoint her because of her vocal support of Colom in the DA’s race. The evening before the Nov. 3 election, Jourdan posted a comment on Facebook endorsing Colom.
It’s pretty clear that having judges appoint pds raises huge constitutional issues and this story shows exactly why that is. Sometimes when you are representing your client zealously, you may piss off a judge. Giving a judge the ability to retaliate by stripping you of your job creates a conflict hampering the pd’s ability to effectively represent her clients.