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Featured programs in May 2013 May 16th - 8pm BlogTalkRadio - Dr. David Walsh on brain development, addictions and raising kids in the digital age. May 23rd - 8pm BlogTalkRadio - Judge Kevin S. Burke on "drug courts" and other pioneering methods for "procedural fairness" in criminal justice. Check back in June 2013 Roger Conant on the Lamat Foundation working to unite and shape a new health movement into a transformative social cause. Sweet-Reason profiles on innovations in step-by-step advances in job skills and on successful programs to strengthen businesses owned by people-of-color.
SHOW #4 MAY 23, 2013 Thursday
8 p.m. CDT BlogTalkRadio Join Sweet-Reason's HOST Andy Driscoll
This Week's Featured GUEST: "Judge Kevin S. Burke On
Procedural Fairness in Criminal Justice"
Kevin S. Burkeis a District Judge in Hennepin County, Minnesota. The Hennepin County District Court has 62 judges and more than 750,000 cases filed per year. Judge Burke was elected for four terms as Chief Judge and three terms as Assistant Chief Judge. He teaches trial practice at the University of Minnesota Law School and criminal procedure at the University of St. Thomas Law School and has been a speaker in many states as well as Canada, Mexico, China, India and Ireland regarding improvement in judicial administration.
Right to Counsel is Violated Every Day
Every day in thousands of courtrooms across the nation, from trial courts that handle felony cases to limited jurisdiction justice of the peace courts, the right to counsel is violated. Leadership to make change must be driven by state leaders. Leadership to make change must be driven by state Supreme Court justices and judges at every other level. Bar leaders and ordinary citizens must speak out for fairness.
Judges conduct hearings in which people accused of crimes and children accused of delinquency appear without lawyers. Some are middle class and therefore not eligible for appointed lawyers. Many plead guilty without lawyers. Others plead guilty and are sentenced after learning about plea offers from lawyers they met moments before. They are afraid and intimidated by the courts. Innocent people plead guilty to get out of jail. Too many plead guilty with no idea that there are collateral consequences that could change their lives.
Can today’s reality be changed? The lawyers in Minnesota who serve as public defenders are virtually all very dedicated, very committed to justice and very overworked. Like their counterparts throughout the nation, there is no substitute for adequate and stable financing of the right to counsel. The system of justice and its leaders must take a stronger stance against inadequate representation. Just as Walter Mondale did 50 years ago, the times dictate a forthright response. Convicting innocent people is unacceptable in a civilized society, and the odds of that happening increase dramatically if the standard of acceptable practice in giving lawyers to the poor remains what it is today.
Kevin Burke, a Minneapolis trial judge since 1984, is one of the most recognized leaders within the American judiciary. He served several terms as chief judge of the Hennepin CountyDistrict Court in Minnesota, a 62-judge court, where he instituted social-science studies examining—and reforms improving—procedural fairness. Burke coauthored the American Judges Association’s white paper on procedural fairness in 2007. Since then, he and his white paper coauthor, Kansas Judge Steve Leben, have made invited presentations on procedural fairness to more than 2,000 state and federal judges.
Burke received the William H. Rehnquist Award from the National Center for State Courts in 2003, an award presented annually to the state judge who most exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. He has received many other awards, including trial judge of the year by the Minnesota chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates in 2005; Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine in 2004; the Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts in 2002; and the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1997.
Burke recently served as president of the American Judges Association. He regularly lectures judges throughout the United States and Canada, and he also teaches at two law schools: he teaches trial practice at the University of Minnesota law school and criminal procedure at the University of St. Thomas law school.