The reference was made to public defenders offering “free” legal advice. Yet this assumption looks only at what is seen. Public defenders do, in fact, provide legal services free of charge to those that qualify based on certain established criteria. What remains unseen in this equation is the origin of resources needed to produce legal defense services. Public defenders are salaried employees of the government, that work in office buildings and use computers that have access to legal libraries and indexes, as well as physical products such as papers, printers, pens, files, cabinets, books, telephones and other equipment that assist in moving cases through the court system. All of the factors of production used in providing legal services to some, privileged, defendants must be resourced from somewhere. Rather than being “free”, the costs of these resources have been socialized across the entire population through the governmental apparatus of taxation.
Taxation is never conducted through voluntary donation, its is coercively imposed, ultimately, through the State’s monopoly position as the ultimate user of force and legal arbiter in a given geographic territory. Therefore, in order to pay for public defenders and their legal services to criminal defendants, the State must commit expropriate resources from its entire population. That some members of the population have been initially victimized by the criminal defendant, which is required for criminal charges to be filed in the first place, and then required to pay for the perpetrator’s defense, indicates a triple victimization: first by the criminal, second by the robbery committed by the State and third in seeing the criminal defendant provided legal services at the public expense. Public defenders do not offer “free” legal advice and can never provide “justice for all”. In fact their services are quite costly, not only in terms of money, but in the erosion of justice inherent to the mechanism through which their activities are provided. It is a cost that certainly outweighs the benefits to those who are forced to foot the bill.