Defender

In 1985, Eddie Joe Lloyd was convicted in Detroit of the rape and murder of a teen-age girl. The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming.  Eddie Joe Lloyd’s written confession gave specific information about the crime scene that only the perpetrator could have known.  Police had him on tape admitting to the brutal acts.  It was a slam dunk case.  The jury took less than an hour to convict him of 1st degree felony murder.  Lamenting the lack of the death penalty in Michigan, the judge sent Eddie Joe to a maximum security prison for the remainder of his life without the possibility of parole.  Justice was served… except for one small problem – Eddie Joe Lloyd was innocent.

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Publication Date: 2010

Through a long series of cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has defined when it is, between arrest and conclusion of a case, that an indigent person facing loss of liberty is entitled to have a lawyer be appointed and represent them – this is referred to as when the right of counsel attaches.  In 2008 in Rothgery v. Gillespie County , the Court made clear that the right to counsel attaches “at the initial appearance before a judicial officer,” by whatever name that hearing is known in a given jurisdiction, but “generally the hearing at which ‘the magistrate informs the defendant of the charge in the complaint, and of various rights in further proceedings,’ and ‘determine[s] the conditions for pretrial release.’” 

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Publication Date: 2010

NLADA’s Justice Standards, Evaluation & Research Initiative (JSERI) evaluations have served as an impetus for a number of jurisdictions, including Louisiana and Michigan, to move toward establishing constitutionally effective indigent defense systems.

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Publication Date: 2010

Standards help defense attorneys, indigent defense systems, and states and counties know what is required of them to provide the right to counsel services guaranteed by our Constitution.  The strong pressures placed on public officials by favoritism, partisanship, and profits all underscore the need for standards to assure fundamental quality in all facets of government and all components

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Publication Date: 2010

This Article briefly quantifies what currently exists in our right to counsel systems -- what we know, and what we do not know.  It is an excerpt adapted from Phyllis E. Mann, Ethical Obligations of Indigent Defense Attorneys to Their Clients, 75 Mo. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming fall  2010).

Author/Organization: Phyllis E Mann
Publication Date: 2010

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NOTE: This article is abridged from a white paper submitted to the Nevada Supreme Court on September 2, 2008. The original paper can be found here.

The Right to Counsel

The Sixth Amendment provides, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."  In Gideon v. Wainwright, the United States Supreme Court stated that “reason and reflection require us to recognize that, in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.”  The Court then held that the Sixth Amendment applied to the states - not to county or local governments -- by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment and that the state of Florida thus had an obligation to provide Mr. Gideon with counsel for his defense.  National standards incorporate this aspect of the decision, emphasizing that state funding and oversight are required to ensure uniform quality. (See ABA Principle 2.)

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Publication Date: 2010

Jon Richard Argersinger was charged in a Florida state court with carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor offense punishable by imprisonment up to 6 months and a $1,000 fine.  He could not afford his own attorney, but was not provided one by the trial court. Instead, he had to represent himself at the bench trial where he was convicted and then sentenced to 90 days in jail.  His case went to the Florida Supreme Court, where he said he had been deprived of his right to counsel and was not able to properly represent himself without a lawyer.

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Publication Date: 2010

In 1998, LeReed Shelton was accused of third-degree assault in Alabama.  Under Alabama law, third-degree assault was a misdemeanor that carried a maximum punishment of 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine.  Mr. Shelton was repeatedly warned about the risk of appearing without counsel, but he was never offered the assistance of counsel at state expense.  Because he could not afford to hire an attorney, he represented himself at a bench trial in the District Court of Etowah County, Alabama, and he was convicted.  Mr. Shelton asked for and received review by jury trial in the Etowah Circuit Court, where he represented himself again and was again convicted.  The circuit court judge sentenced him to 30 days imprisonment, but immediately suspended the sentence, placed Mr. Shelton on unsupervised probation for two years, and ordered him to pay a total of $1,041.69 as a condition of his probation. 

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Publication Date: 2010

On June 18, 2008, NLADA released its report, A Race to the Bottom: Speed and Savings over Due Process: A Constitutional Crisis, which found that the state of Michigan fails to provide competent representation to those who cannot afford counsel in its criminal courts.  The state of Michigan’s failure to fulfill its constitutional obligations has produced myriad county public defense systems that vary greatly in defining who qualifies for services and the competency of the services rendered. Michigan ranks 44th in the nation for per capita public defense spending ($7.35), behind such states as Alabama and Georgia.

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Publication Date: 2010

Gideon Alert: US Senate Judiciary introduces legislation to improve and enforce Sixth Amendment right to counsel services

BY David Carroll on Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:21 AM

On September 27, 2010, the United States Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced the “Justice For All Reauthorization Act of 2010” (JFAA 2010).  The Act includes provisions to assist states in improving Sixth Amendment right to counsel services, while simultaneously empowering the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sue those that do not.  In a press release, Senator Leahy said “[t]oday, we rededicate ourselves to building a criminal justice system in which the innocent remain free, the guilty are punished, and all sides have the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to advance the cause of justice.”