You have a right to an attorney... but as John Oliver pointed out on Sunday's "Last Week Tonight," you don't have a right to an attorney who actually has time for you.
Public defenders are so overworked that they often handle hundreds of cases -- or in Fresno County, California, they handle up to 1,000 felony cases a year when state guidelines say they should only have 150.
And in New Orleans, some public defenders get an average of seven minutes to prepare a case.
"That is not long enough to prepare anything," Oliver said. "If I only had seven minutes to prepare this show, I definitely would not be talking about public defenders right now. I'd be desperately trying to fill time by listing Muppets in order of fuckability."
(Which he then proceeded to do... ranking Fozzie at #1.)
It's so bad that New Orleans is turning to crowdfunding to make up its budget shortfall, Oliver said, and many states now even charge people for access to a public defender.
"We have a system where conceivably, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you, provided that you pay that attorney, which is absurd," Oliver said. "You can't tell people something's free and then charge them for it. This is the American judicial system -- not Candy Crush."
So what's the answer? Maybe a new Miranda warning to be used on cop shows that are more reflective of reality.
Oliver drafted some of the stars of those shows to demonstrate that new warning. You can check it out in the clip above.
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