You've known that public defender Howard Finkelstein is awesome since he began doing his "Help Me, Howard" segments on Channel 7 News. Now, the whole nation is about to have a collective crush on the five-foot-three, ponytailed lawyer, since Mother Jones has published a puff piece explaining how the department's hiring of ex-cops as investigators is "a bold experiment in public defense."
The story explains that Finkelstein saved money when senior lawyers in his department retired and he hired less experienced staffers for lower salaries. He then used the savings to bring on retired cops as investigators. These generally conservative cops spent their entire careers putting people in jail but are now heartwarmingly seeing the criminal justice system in a new light as they work for "the other side," helping indigent people accused of crimes.
A graph notes that while police budgets increased fivefold over a 20-year period, public defenders' budgets have stayed essentially flat.
The story comes complete with dramatic Hill Street Blues-style photos of the cast of characters in Finkelstein's office.
Read the whole article here.