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Everyone deserves a fair trial. Everyone.

And one of the most important parts of a fair trial is having access to an attorney who actually knows what they are doing — someone who's willing to devote the proper time and energy to defending your innocence.

In fact, it's stated in both the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of Human Rights that courts have an obligation to provide an attorney to those who can't secure their own. (Hey, did you know that lawyers can be expensive?!)


This is why public defenders — defense attorneys provided and paid for by public funds — are a thing.

But what happens when a state government decides it's tired of spending so much money on public defenders?

In Missouri, recent budget cuts to the public defender program have been frequent and severe. So the department director decided to do something pretty drastic.

Director of the Missouri public defender program, Michael Barrett. Image via ABC 17/YouTube

In a scathing letter to Governor Jay Nixon, director Michael Barrett pointed out all the ways that the budget cuts are undermining the integrity of our legal system.

He said his attorneys' caseloads are way too high and the governor has refused to do anything about it.

"Seven years ago, your office vetoed [a Senate Bill] ... which would have provided caseload relief to an overburdened public defender system. In denying that relief, you acknowledged that MSPD was operating 'under significant stresses' and committed to working ... to fix the problem, but never did."

He explained that the cuts are affecting, most of all, poor minorities — ensuring they don't get a fair shake in our legal system.

"This action comes even after the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice found that poor black children are being systematically deprived of the rights in Missouri due in large part to the lack of public defenders. Choosing in the wake of that report to further debilitate the very organization that ensures an equal system of justice only adds to the escalating sentiment that the poor and disenfranchised do not receive a fair shake in Missouri's criminal justice system."

Finally, Barrett said he only has one extreme option left if he wants his meager budget to last through the year:

"As of yet, I have not utilized this provision because it is my sincere belief that it is wrong to reassign an obligation placed on the state by the 6th and 14th Amendments to private attorneys who have in no way contributed to the current crisis. However, given the extraordinary circumstances that compel me to entertain any and all avenues for relief, it strikes me that I should begin with the one attorney in the state who not only created this problem, but is in a unique position to address it."

Then, in an absolutely epic mic drop moment, Barrett ended the letter by exercising his authority to appoint the governor himself as counsel in an upcoming case.

Yeah, he can do that.

Missouri governor Jay Nixon. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"Therefore, pursuant to Section 600.042.5 and as Director of the Missouri State Public Defender System tasked with carrying out the State's obligation to ensure that poor people who face incarceration are afforded competent counsel in their defense, I hereby appoint you, Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Bar No. 29603, to enter your appearance as counsel of record in the attached case," Barrett wrote.

In other words: "You don't want to give me the resources I need to do my job? Fine. You do it then."

A representative of the governor's office said in an email that Barrett's claims are off base and that the public defender has "seen a 15 percent increase in funding."

Meanwhile, Barrett's office has "filed a lawsuit over what it calls Gov. Jay Nixon's unconstitutional decision to withhold $3.5 million in funds for defending indigent people," according to KY3.

They can sort out the exact numbers in court. And it's doubtful the governor will actually have to show up in court and argue a case.

But in the meantime, we have to applaud Michael Barrett, whose letter has gone viral for bringing some much needed attention to the issue of fair trials for all.

It's refreshing to see a public official willing to go to the mat for the people he's sworn to protect.

You can read the full letter here.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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