In your May 5 editorial (“Our View: Maine continues to put up roadblocks to justice“), you point out that public defenders are not being provided with enough money to do their job, thereby putting the people they defend at risk.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems with our criminal justice system. For example, on the opposite side of the issue discussed in the editorial, is the fact that well-off defendants can hire expensive defense attorneys who are likely to do a better job than less expensive attorneys. Raj Rajaratnam (a former hedge fund manager and convicted inside trader) may have spent over $40 million to defend himself. Presumably he got better representation than most of us would have.

The phenomenon of anchoring bias means that the first impression is likely to shift a person in the direction of that impression. Alex Kozinski, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, has pointed out: “Trials in general, and longer trials in particular, may be heavily loaded in favor of whichever party gets to present its case first – the prosecution in a criminal case and the plaintiff in a civil case.”

And jurors? Do they have special qualifications to decide whether a particular person performed a given action? No. They are drawn from all walks of life, not from among those with expertise in probability and forensics (to name just two relevant qualifications).

The system could use a complete overhaul, but don’t count on that happening any time soon.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island