Independence

Gideon Alert: NJ Gov’s dismissal of state public defender sparks debate over independence

BY Jon Mosher on Friday, March 4, 2011 at 1:00 PM

On March 3, the Newark Star-Ledger published an editorial on the New Jersey governor’s recent decision to remove the current chief public defender, Yvonne Smith Segars, and nominate a new candidate for the state senate’s approval.  New Jersey has a statewide, state-funded indigent defense system that provides direct services primarily through regional staffed public defender offices.  The state’s chief public defender, who oversees all right to counsel services in the state, is appointed by the governor with approval of the senate.

Gideon Alert: Without independence, New Mexico PD system in limbo after governor dismisses chief

BY David Carroll on Monday, February 28, 2011 at 12:00 AM

On February 16, 2011, newly elected New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez removed the state’s Chief Public Defender Hugh Dangler from his post, as reported in the Santa Fe Reporter.  New Mexico has a statewide, state-funded indigent defense system that provides services through a combination of staffed public defender offices and contract attorneys. The dismissal of the public defender is expected with the election of a new governor because New Mexico’s chief public defender is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor, rather than through a non-partisan public defense commission as required by national standards including ABA Principle 1. The dismissal in the middle of a legislative session without a replacement, however, “brings questions for the department's ability to advocate for itself.”

Free Webinar: The Right to Counsel: Standards & Solutions in a Downturned Economy

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 9:52 AM

On March 8, 2011, JSERI director David Carroll will be conducting a national webinar entitled The Right to Counsel: Standards & Solutions in a Downturned Economy on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Program is geared toward policy-makers and judges, but services providers are welcomed. Please forward to key decision-makers in your state. Registration free, but limited.

Tom Green County, Texas considers regional defender model

BY Jon Mosher on Friday, February 4, 2011 at 12:20 PM

As noted in our Gideon Alert on January 26, the National Association of Counties recommended the federal government fund pilot public defender programs to serve multi-county jurisdictions in rural areas.  The San Angelo Standard-Times reports that Tom Green County, Texas is considering such a regional model using grant funds from the state’s Task Force on Indigent Defense.  NLADA applauds the county’s leadership for considering creative solutions to their local right to counsel dilemma.

Debate on Massachusetts public defense proposal continues

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 5:16 PM

The discussion about Massachusetts Gov. Patrick's proposed changes to the state's public defender system continues. Today, David Carroll, NLADA research director and author of Gideon Alerts, appeared on WBUR's Radio Boston show to provide national context to the discussion (stream online here).

In 2008, the Board of Commissioners of Cook County was threatening to (and ultimately did) fire the chief Public Defender for the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, which provides indigent defense services in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois.  Because it was perceived that the Public Defender was threatened with firing due to his efforts to comply with national standards for indigent defense systems and services, this Resolution was issued. 

Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
Publication Date: 05/02/2008

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On August 24, 2007, the American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD) approved a resolution endorsing a report of the ACCD's Caseload Task Force, reaffirming the validity of public defender caseload limit recommendations first set out in 1973 by the National Advisory Commission (NAC) on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals. 

By this letter, the ACCD conveyed its policy positions to the American Bar Association, Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defense (ABA-SCLAID).

Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
Publication Date: 02/08/2008

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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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.

TX County Looks to Cut Indigent Defense Costs

BY Jon Mosher on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Like so many counties across the nation, Montgomery County, Texas, is looking to cut its expenses. According to the Conroe Courier, a member of the local judiciary suggests looking to indigent defense to cut costs.  The county currently operates under an assigned counsel model for adult criminal cases, with judges approving attorney vouchers. Juvenile cases are handled under contract with three private attorneys at a $175,000 flat annual fee.

Gideon Alert: The “Indiana Model” creates unequal representation

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Indiana has a strong home-rule tradition, favoring local autonomy over state control in many governmental facets. Indigent defense in the state is organized at the county level, and historically representation has been provided most typically by part-time public defenders operating under contract.