Defender

The inadequacy of indigent defense systems in Nevada became a primary focus of the Nevada Supreme Court Task Force for the Study of Racial and Economic Bias in the Justice System (Task Force). In 1997, the Task Force issued a report that found there was inadequate financial support of public defender offices throughout the state to ensure quality representation. The Task Force’s Implementation Committee received technical assistance under a joint grant from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the ABA’s Bar Information Program to make recommendations for sustainable improvement to indigent defense services. The DOJ/ABA report concluded, among other things, that: (1) indigent defendants throughout the state of Nevada are not afforded equal justice; (2) the state indigent defense system is in crisis; and (3) workload issues among public defenders have resulted in expedited procedures that jeopardize defendants’ rights.

Author/Organization: The Spangenberg Group
Publication Date: 12/2000

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Gideon Alert: MA Governor proposes disbanding statewide defender commission

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:50 AM

On January 24, 2011, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick proposed sweeping changes to the delivery of indigent defense services in the state.  Changes include abolishing the existing independent commission that oversees the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) and creating a new public defender department under the executive branch.  The Governor would also end CPCS’ primary reliance on the private bar and instead provide most services through full-time staffed public defender offices.  Under the Governor’s plan, the new department would also be responsible for conducting eligibility screening and collecting fees from indigent clients for services.

Gideon Alert: Ignoring the 6th Amendment in Broward County, Florida Municipal Courts

BY David Carroll on Friday, January 14, 2011 at 8:00 AM

It is an all too common occurrence for misdemeanor courts in the United States to pressure people charged with misdemeanors into waiving their right to counsel without adequately informing them of the consequences of doing so.  Courts defend such practices as an attempt to expedite the processing of cases and save money, but the Sixth Amendment does not allow this type of shortcut.  And, the consequences for unrepresented people can be severe, such as loss of public housing, deportation, inability to serve in the armed forces, ineligibility for student loans, and significant financial penalties.

Letter from the Broward County (Florida) Chief Public Defender to the Chief Judge of the 17th Circuit Court regarding the need for appointment of counsel for defendants in municipal court cases facing a potential loss of liberty.

Author/Organization: Howard Finkelstein, Broward County Public Defender
Publication Date: 01/06/2011

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Letter from the Broward County (Florida) Public Defender to the Fort Lauderdale City Manager regarding the "Defense of Indigents Charged with Violating County or Municipal Ordinances."

Author/Organization: Howard Finkelstein, Broward County Public Defender
Publication Date: 03/22/2007

Items contained in the NLADA Library do not and are not meant to constitute advice of any kind. Content in the NLADA Library is contributed by users. If you believe this material infringes your or any other person’s copyright or if you feel that the material is inappropriate, please report this to NLADA Staff by clicking below.

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Louisiana Public Defender Board sues Orleans Parish judges

BY Jon Mosher on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 11:37 AM

The Courthouse News Service reports that the Louisiana Public Defender Board has filed a law suit against 23 Orleans Parish (New Orleans) judges for their failure "to collect a $35 fee from criminal defendants who appear before them. The fee, which is mandatory, helps fund public defenders offices, and the judges' refusal to collect it has resulted in 'critical underfunding' of the New Orleans Public Defender's Office, according to the complaint."

Ohio's Chief Justice calls for reform of probation system

BY Jon Mosher on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

An Associated Press story today notes the counter-productive consequences of disproportionate sentences on low-risk, non-violent offenders. By "exposing them to harsher probationary terms than they require" and "removing minor offenders from their communities, families and jobs makes it much more likely they'll commit more crimes and go back to prison." In the face of Ohio's ongoing budget woes, the state's chief justice says now is the time for sentencing reform.

The state appellate court granted class action status to the New York Civil Liberties Union’s landmark lawsuit, Hurrell-Harring et al v. State of New York, charging New York State with failing its constitutional duty to provide effective counsel to poor New Yorkers accused of crimes. The unanimous ruling by the Appellate Division, Third Department reverses a lower court’s decision to deny the NYCLU’s motion for class certification.

Author/Organization: State of New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division Third Judicial Department
Publication Date: 01/06/2011

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Houston Chronicle calls for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Texas

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 10:54 AM

The Houston Chronicle started off 2011 by calling for the abolition of the death penalty in Texas in a January 1st editorial.  The position was taken, in part, because of the very real likelihood that Texas has executed two innocent people.  The September 2009 edition of the New Yorker has an excellent expose on the Cameron Todd Willingham case and the work of The Innocence Project on his behalf.  The Innocence Project also has further information on the case of Claude Jones.  The Chronicle notes that a drop in the number of death sentences has occurred since the Texas legislature passed a life-without-parole statute in 2005. 

New York Court certifies class in NYCLU lawsuit

BY David Carroll on Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:00 AM

On May 6, 2010, we reported that New York’s Highest Court allowed the NYCLU lawsuit to proceed.  Two months later a trial court judge ruled that the class could not be certified, making the lawsuit potentially more difficult to pursue.  On January 6, 2011, an appellate court overturned that decision and certified the class, noting “denial of class certification gives rise to the possibility of multiple lawsuits involving duplicative claims of those asserted in this action and inconsistent rulings by various courts in the state.”  The ruling paves the way for the case to proceed to trial, as an appeal to the Court of Appeals is viewed as highly unlikely.