real justice
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join the discussion: What are your reactions to this report on the real life world of ass't da's and defense lawyers?  Do you have a  story to share about  the criminal  justice  system at the state court level?

Dear FRONTLINE,


Finally, someone turns the camera on prosector's dark corner of the law. I cannot stress enough how irritating it is that the general public figures it's all over after the police make an arrest and that we prosecutors work in some kind of palatial splendor.

Frontline has it right, we are underpaid, understaffed and are on the front lines fighting to keep your streets safe every day. Forgive me if I rant but - Criminals go free because the good, experienced lawyers have to leave the service of the state when thier salaries won't allow them to feed their families and pay off their student loans. All I ever read about is the Police getting more money for officers, new cars, gadgets, and training. At the same time, I had to buy my own pens and can't get white-out without a act of Congress.

Don't misunderstand me, I love my job and work with some of the finest trial lawyers in the state, but you can't expect to keep us and our experience if you don't pay us at least a fraction of what we're worth. Remember that Mr. Theiss' salary was on the high end - It has already started in that same labor shortage that is hitting the rest of the economy is hitting the legal profession and a new lawyer with a $100,000 loan ain't going to dirty his hands with a 28k criminal prosecution job. The end result for the public is that good lawyers - and bad criminals - WALK.

Phil Reiman
Chicago, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,


I was a prosecutor in a major metropolitan area for ten years. I had a caseload similar to Mr. Theiss' and earned roughly the same salary.

Believe it or not I enjoyed going to work every day. I couldn't have imagined doing the more mundane type of legal work that some of my law school peers were doing at a higher salary. Your show was a realistic depiction of what I faced every day. Thank you for giving the public a much needed view of what real trial attorneys do daily.

Greg Wells
Prince Frederick, Maryland

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have been a part-time public defender for 18 years. Lisa Medeiros was a perfect reflection of myself and my own practice. The clients can be frustrating, angry and self destructive. But they need my help, and they are sometimes very grateful. The only part of the program that was not accurate compared to my local practice was that defendants were allowed to testify without the juries learning of their prior convictions.

Linda Veazey
Abbeville, Louisiana

Dear FRONTLINE,

I admit I usually watch the typical TV fare of law shows - even the preachy "Judging Amy", but skipped it last night to watch "Frontline" having read about it in the Globe.

Not only was I impressed with the content, subject, and technique of the show, I am also impressed with the content, subject and depth of the web site.

It's a nice extension of the progam to read the background fill on both Lisa and Vik as well as the thought-provoking comments from viewers.

D. Mascott

Dear FRONTLINE,

I gained a new perspective after viewing your piece on "real life" justice. Specifically, on the role of the court-appointed attorney.

In spite of the fact that I'm a conservative, republican type: I fell compelled to give a big "Thank You" to Lisa Mederios for her work as a public defender. Her clients typically don't thank her, so I will.

Given the fact that Lisa is a former naval officer, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Lisa to constantly deal with individuals who simply refuse to take responsibility for their lives.

I don't always agree with the light sentences handed out to repeat offenders, and our "revolving door" justice system in general, but my hat is off to you Lisa.

Steve Taylor
Littleton, Colorado

Dear FRONTLINE,

I happened to come across this program by chance last evening. It was a fascinating portrayal of the daily lives of many in the inner city. I was even more intrigued and inspired by Lisa Medeiros' determination to offer her clients appropriate legal counsel. I knew Lisa back in high school and want to pass on my congratulations to her. The story of how Lisa overcame many life obstacles was truly inspiring! Look out Ally McBeal!!! Lisa, hope to see you at the reunion!

Jeanne Delaney Clapper
holliston, ma

Dear FRONTLINE,

It was 90 minutes of programing that was as informative as it was entertaining. As a black gay man I found the case of the two white gay men the most disturbing for obvious reasons and wish that there could've been an alternative like mediation to a day in court that left no one better off.

The only question I have is how long until Vik and that nice woman who told the guilty kid to plead not guilty we saw Tuesday evening get burned out from the constant battle and move on to other jobs.

Albert Myrick
Boston, Massachusetts

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a police officer, undercover detective, and now a patrol sergeant, I am all too familiar with the judicial "system". Your program offered a realistic glimse into the U.S. process where prosecutors are stacked up with too many cases too handle.

I would like to have seen a view from the case officer's or detective's perspective. Too many times an officer is required to appear in court on his day off, at an unreasonable time due to shift work, or too frequently due to a case being continued for frivolous reasons. Seasoned officers becomed indifferent as to whether justice is really served. Also, a perspective as to how timely the case is adjudicated relevant to the actual timing of the alleged crime may have provided insight to those not in the "system" may shown a glimpse of how rediculous our system can be.

Sean Kelly
mesa, AZ

Dear FRONTLINE,

From where I sit, over the years I have only been able to develop a stereotype of prosecutors and the criminal justice system as another bureacracy run amok, with its main mission seeming to grow to throw as many people into jail for pot smoking and prostitution.

this show really helped to open my eyes to both sides....A society has to have limits, laws that mandate the limits of our freedom--we can't encroach on other peoples freedoms.

At the same time, we can't arbitrarily convict people of crimes....it has to be difficult to finally convict and punish anyone.

So i salute both Ms. Medeirous and Mr. Thiess for doing this really noble work. I have a demanding job also, but it doesn't have the huge human impact they both deal with. And a further salute for being the people that do the absolutely necessary job of dealing with the real fringes and outliers of our society, and protecting the borders of behavior that effect us all.

Amazing, refreshing, and a great cure for a guy who before your show had only a festering cynacism.

george martin
san jose, ca

Dear FRONTLINE,

I hope the producers at FOX network were watching.
This subject matter and these real life court and human dramas have the potential as a tv series to meet and surpass the success of the long running shows "Cops", "America's Most Wanted", and the dozens of court tv programs. It takes reality tv to a new level of interest, education, and stimulation. We can develop a better understanding and appreciation for the people like Lisa Medeiros, Viktor Theiss, and the many judges and others who work for us to protect society from those who would do us harm, including ourselves. Tremendously fascinating and enlightening from beginning to end.

John Ayres
Las Vegas, Nv

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have worked with civil trial lawyers for 25 years dealing with insurance litigation matters. I pride myself on an ability to examine an insurance claim, chalkboarding the pros and cons on both sides of the equation, then negotiating what I believe is a prompt, fair and equitable resolution.

Watching Lisa Medieros this evening humbled me. She is such a true Officer of the Court.

I do not know whether you share comments of viewers with the subjects of your piece, but if you do, tell her there is a gentleman in California who respects her and promises never to tell or laugh at a lawyer joke again.

Duane Thaxton
Foothill Ranch, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a Federal law enforcement agent, it was truly a joy to have a program present some of the more mundane aspects of the legal system that most people are not familiar with. The real world does not consist only of Miami Vice-type cases that require no paperwork or accountability.

Ms. Medeiros' performance gave me a new-found respect for defense work but I had to disagree with her when she stated "I saved her Ms. McDonald $4000..." - isn't the state she pays huge taxes to out this money? No plea bargaining on restitution! Lastly, as a Suffolk Univ. graduate, I loved the shots of Boston!

Brian Begley
St. Louis, MO

Dear FRONTLINE,

After reading some of the media's analysis of the show real justice, i thought i should share my opinion and do it some real "justice". I tuned into the show tonite, and my attention was immediate.

Yes, pseudo real life hospital shows, as well as lawyer shows are interesting and entertaining, as one reporter said, but this show was much more informative than entertaining. So much goes on in this world that people know of, but do not really know about. Forums such as this show, where the general public is allowed the opportunity to truthfully see, hopefully, the real handling of circumstances that affect so many peoples lives is incredibly amazing. I wish more people would tune into shows like this one, it may have an educating as well as an attitude or life changing effect.

Julia Winn

Dear FRONTLINE,

Very disturbing!

Our court system is in shambles and there is no one to point the finger at directly. Also, do you think the judge would have allowed the transient who pled not-guilty to re-enter the courtroom and change his pleato get released from jail if the Frontline cameras were not there?

$42K for Theiss' job? NO THANKS!!!

John Reilly
Ocala, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have seen those who need to go to jail get free legal help and given probation. They then commit more serious crimes and they repeat the process. In a way the legal system allows small crimes to go unpunished and this may teach the criminal his behavior is OK. This finally ends when they have killed or seriously hurt someone.

The system needs to be improved to be more accountable. The person who is finally hurt or the family of the victim has no recourse on the system that failed to lock up the criminal properly. If the courts had to pay the medical bills or the funeral cost of the victims, they would be less likely to let the guilty walk free.

Bob Marshall
Rock Hill, SC

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