Indigent Defense System

A 1995 evaluation of the Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) PA public defender office.

Author/Organization: The Spangenberg Group
Publication Date: 11/1995

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 An Analysis of Problems at the Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender that Cause Systemic Violations of Clients’ Constitutional Right to Adequate Representation

Author/Organization: American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA)
Publication Date: 10/2011

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Gideon Alert: Michigan takes first steps to fulfilling Gideon’s promise

BY David Carroll on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 4:12 PM

On October 13, 2011, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issued Executive Order No. 2011-12 establishing an Indigent Defense Advisory Commission (Commission).  The Commission is charged to make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature for statewide “improvements to the system of providing legal representation for indigent criminal defendants.”  The recommendations from the 14-member, bi-partisan Commission must ensure that: “indigent defense is free from undue political interference and conflicts of interest;” “the right to counsel is delivered by effective counsel at each critical stage of the proceedings in a manner that is consistent throughout the state;” and, “government-funded criminal defense lawyers are sufficiently trained and supervised, appropriately qualified, and adequately compensated.”  The Commission must meet their charge in a manner that is fiscally responsible and cost-effective, while being “responsive to jurisdictional variances and local community needs.” Findings and recommendations are due to the Legislature and Governor no later than July 15, 2012.

 David Carroll's statement regarding the news of Michigan Gov. Snyder's Executive Order 2011-12 creating an Indigent Defense Advisory Commission.

Author/Organization: David Carroll, NLADA
Publication Date: 10/13/2011

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On October 13, 2011, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issued Executive Order No.

Author/Organization: David Carroll
Publication Date: 10/13/2011

Two Utah papers react to ACLU-Utah report

BY Jon Mosher on Monday, August 29, 2011 at 10:50 AM

In response to the ACLU of Utah's recent report on the state's failure to meet its constitutional right to counsel oblications, two Utah newspapers published editorials expressing appropriate shock and outrage.  "One thing that any self-respecting bunch of Don’t Tread On Me Utahns should be concerned about is the prospect of being arrested, cuffed and dragged into court without so much as a marginally competent attorney on hand to defend you," the Salt Lake Tribune wrote on August 28, 2011.  

Gideon Alert: Undue prosecutorial influence on the 6th Amendment in Utah

BY David Carroll on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 11:47 AM

In Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981), the United States Supreme Court found that states have a “constitutional obligation to respect the professional independence of the public defenders whom it engages,” noting that a “public defender is not amenable to administrative direction in the same sense as other state employees”. In fact, the Court noted, a “defense lawyer best serves the public not by acting on the State's behalf or in concert with it, but rather by advancing the undivided interests of the client.” A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah (ACLU-Utah) finds that the state of Utah fails to uphold this constitutional obligation.  In “most” of the nine counties studied by the ACLU-Utah, the local prosecutor “routinely” is responsible for hand-selecting opposing defense counsel and often helps to negotiate the terms of defender contracts. Worse, the report highlights that in several counties defense attorneys must request trial-related expenses from the county attorneys.  

Gideon Alert: Tennessee Supreme Court proposes rule change allowing flat-fee contracting

BY David Carroll on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 4:11 PM

“When it comes to balancing the scales of justice for the poor with the expense, there simply are no easy answers,” concludes the Knoxville News Sentinel on August 21, 2011 in part of an in-depth, three-part series. The Tennessee Supreme Court proposed a new rule change that attempts to find an easy answer to controlling indigent defense costs by allowing flat-fee contracting for right to counsel services, but the Court has neglected to provide institutional safeguards that would protect the adequacy of representation.  If implemented, this move will buck the trend of other state Supreme Courts, in places like Iowa and Washington, that have recently banned these types of low-bid contracts because they create a direct financial conflict of interest between the attorney and each client.  Tennessee’s high court is accepting public comment on their proposed rule until September 1, 2011.

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association studied right to counsel services in the state of Tennessee in 1977. This is their report.

Author/Organization: National Legal Aid & Defender Association
Publication Date: 1977

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The AOC was tasked by the Tennessee legislature with "conducting a study of the rising costs of indigent defense in the state and to develop a plan to reduce such costs. Such study shall examine, at a minimum, eligibility requirements, fee rates including sliding scale options, limits, verification processes, and utilization by judicial districts." This is the AOC's report from that study.

Author/Organization: Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts
Publication Date: 01/15/2011

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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