No money, no justice.
A man trying to get DNA testing to exonerate himself from rape had been turned down twice, until a court employee pointed him to the precedent
under which he could get the DNA test approved. Testing showed that Robert Nelson did not commit the rape he'd been convicted of—but Sharon Snyder was fired for helping him.
After the second motion failed in late October 2011, Snyder gave Nelson’s sister, Sea Dunnell, a copy of a motion filed in a different case in which the judge sustained a DNA request.
Nelson used that motion—a public document Dunnell could have gotten if she had known its significance and where to find it—as a guide for a motion he filed Feb. 22, 2012, again seeking DNA testing. That August, Byrn sustained the motion, found Nelson to be indigent and appointed Laura O'Sullivan, legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project, to represent him. [...]
Byrn fired her June 27, telling her she had violated several court rules by providing assistance to Nelson and talking about aspects of the case, even while under seal, to attorneys not involved in the matter.
The good news is that Snyder was approaching retirement and will still get her pension. Even if her firing was absolutely correct by the book and will, in the end, do relatively little damage to her life, though, it reveals a massive hole in the American legal system. Robert Nelson knew what he needed to exonerate himself. But without better legal assistance than was available to him, he couldn't get the DNA testing he needed. If we're going to have a legal system in which people don't have access to a solid defense and court employees aren't allowed to say "hey, here's the precedent for your case," we can't really call it a justice system. Not for people who can't afford expensive lawyers, anyway.