Justice System | St. Louis Public Radio

Justice System

Nina Totenberg is NPR's legal affairs correspondent.
Allison Shelley | NPR

President Trump has appointed judges at a fast and steady pace since he took office almost three years ago. His administration has appointed nearly one in four of the country’s federal appeals court judges and one in seven of U.S. district court judges

“You’re going to see a dramatic switch in the lower courts to a much, much more conservative approach,” said NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg on St. Louis on the Air.

Protesters stood silently with hands raised in the middle of Market Street near St. Louis City Hall.
File photo | Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

A simple concept underpins the American legal system: equal treatment.

But the ideal more often is missed than met — at least that’s what protesters argue during the near-daily demonstrations since the Sept. 15 acquittal of a white former St. Louis police officer in the 2011 shooting death of a black man.

The recent events once again have some local attorneys trying to square their faith in a system they’re supposed to respect despite its flaws.

The protest in Clayton Friday, March 20, 2015 had a funeral theme, complete with a white casket carried through the streets.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 100 people marched through the streets of Clayton Friday in a continuation of protests begun last August after Michael Brown was killed.

James Cridland via Flickr

When people of means encounter injustice or are accused of crimes, they hire an attorney to represent them in a court of law. But for people living in poverty, their choices are more limited.

If it’s a criminal case, a defendant will be assigned a public defender. If it’s a civil case, the individual can apply for aid with their local branch of legal services. But despite these options, low-income people are at a disadvantage in the American justice system, say St. Louis attorneys who serve the poor.