In Chicago’s Bond Court, Judge Matthew Coghlan sets bonds in a furiously fast 50 minutes for 113 men and women who have been swept off the streets for “various stupid crimes,” mostly involving drugs, says Chicago Sun-Times columnist Tom McNamee. That is 26.55 seconds per alleged bad guy. The judge reads the charges against the defendant, listens to any other relevant facts offered by a prosecutor or the public defender, and decides how much cash the defendant must come up with, if any, to go free until trial.
That’s a sharp contrast to the picture pained by CNN’s Nancy Grace in her book, “Objection!,” which contends that, “High-priced defense attorneys, celebrity defendants and a 24/7 media have hijacked our criminal justice system.” In Bond Court, McNamee sees “a couple of private defense attorneys who are anything but famous” and a public defender “draped in his chair,” telling the judge only the defendant’s age and living arrangement. “A public defender should tell the judge something, and not just a guy’s age and where he lives,” says Steve Bogira, author of “Courtroom 302,” a book that describes how criminal courts really work. “I can’t believe none of these guys have employment. I can’t believe nobody has a GED.”