Jack Bailey, Meet Trastavien Hardy

This is the one-page court order that was faxed to the offices of Jack Bailey, appointing him to represent Trastavien Hardy, a young man accused of a burglary. It was the only official, printed communication Jack, who is normally a personal injury lawyer, received from the court in the run-up to his first court date in the case.

595: Deep End of the Pool
The public defenders’ office in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, began declining cases due to lack of funding just one week before Jack Bailey received this fax. The practice of appointing private attorneys to fill the resulting gap continued in the parish for over a year—until August 1, 2016.
The document named the client, but said nothing about what he was charged with, where he was, or how to contact him. An experienced public defender would have visited Trastavien within 72 hours. Instead, Trastavien wound up waiting in jail for two months before meeting his attorney.
Jack was appointed to this case because his name was next on an alphabetical list of private attorneys. Hundreds of court orders like this one went out before the parish's practice of appointing private attorneys stopped.
This docket number refers to a case that prompted the local public defenders' office to begin restricting services. But in the absence of other information, Jack's paralegal Tammy Burdine assumed it must be related to their client Trastavien Hardy. When she looked it up, it referred to a pimping case that had nothing to do with Trastavien—which confused Tammy further.
The court order explains that Louisiana's public defense system can't afford a public defender for Trastavien (hence Jack's appointment), but also asserts that Jack may be compensated for some costs—"out-of-pocket expenses" and "overhead." Jack doubted this was true. As he pointed out, he'd been assigned this case precisely because the public defenders' office was short on funds. Language like this may give private attorneys standing to bring future lawsuits regarding these appointments, which in turn might pressure the Louisiana State Legislature to better fund the state's public defenders.
This note instructs Jack Bailey to show up in court on May 13, 2015, for a hearing in Trastavien's case. Neither Jack nor his paralegal noticed the date, and they missed the hearing entirely. Trastavien did show up to the May 13 hearing—making it the second time in this case he'd come to court and found himself without a lawyer. (The first time was the hearing at which he learned the public defenders' office could not offer him an attorney.)