Indigent Defense System

Update on New York state's struggles to meet Gideon's promise

BY Jon Mosher on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 2:31 PM

On August 2, 2011, the Gotham Gazette provided a lengthy update on the state of New York’s ongoing struggle to provide a meaningful right to counsel for those otherwise unable to afford it.  The New York Civil Liberties Union class action lawsuit against the state, now in the discovery phase, continues to pressure policymakers to find a permanent resolution to the state’s severe, chronic challenges in meeting its 6th Amendment obligations.  Meanwhile, the newly established Office of Indigent Legal Services saw its initial $3 million budget cut in half, limiting its ability to aid county-based service providers in meeting foundational standards.  With progress slow, the Gazette provides a helpful round-up on where efforts currently stand, and where New York policymakers may look next in order to make larger strides towards constitutional compliance.

Justice Policy Institute releases report on the Right to Counsel

BY Jon Mosher on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 2:27 PM

The Justice Policy Institute has released a report linking states' struggles to provide effective right to counsel services with excessive corrections costs.  The report, System Overload: The Costs of Under-Resourcing Public Defense, highlights the impact of overwhelmed public defense systems and "how the busting-at-the-seams systems affect state and county budgets, the lives of those behind bars, the impact on their families, and the challenges of re-entering communities after serving time."

Gideon Alert: Connecticut backslides on right to counsel

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 9:46 AM
Like indigent defense systems throughout the country, Connecticut has recently had to let go forty-two public defender employees, including 23 lawyers, and is planning to eliminate 33 more positions, as reported in  the July 21, 2011 Boston Globe.  This is the result of what the Globe summarized as “a funding crisis for the nation’s judicial systems,” while government officials and state employee unions in Connecticut battle for power over the too few remaining dollars (see the June 30, 2011 New York Times).  The difference between Connecticut and other states where similar lay-offs are occurring is that Connecticut’s right to counsel system has been closer than most states to fulfilling the promises of the Sixth Amendment.

Settlement agreement as a result of a 1997 class action law suit by the ACLU against then-Connecticut Governor Rowland and the state public defender commission for failure to adequately fund the delivery of 6th Amendment right to counsel services. 

Author/Organization: State of Connecticut and ACLU
Publication Date: 08/03/1999

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Class action complaint against then-Connecticut Governor Rowland and the state public defender commission for failure to adequately fund the delivery of 6th Amendment right to counsel services. 

Author/Organization: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Publication Date: 01/22/1997

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This is a progress report on implementation by the Riverside County Public Defender Office (RPDO) and Riverside County of NLADA’s Evaluation Report recommendations submitted in January of 2000. This report reflects the findings of an NLADA team with respect to activities, corrective actions and achievements by the RPDO and the County in the sixteen months since the Evaluation Report was submitted. It is current as of May 1, 2001. 

Author/Organization: National Legal Aid & Defender Association
Publication Date: 06/2001

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Riverside County contracted with the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) to conduct an evaluation of its Public Defender Office. Scott Wallace, Director of Defender Services for NLADA, recruited a team of experienced public defenders with extensive experience as managers and litigators, and in conducting management audits of indigent defense programs.
 

 

Author/Organization: National Legal Aid & Defender Association
Publication Date: 01/2000

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On September 20, 2007, the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors adopted updated Standards for indigent defense services as proposed by the WSBA Committee on Public Defense.

Author/Organization: Washington State Bar Association
Publication Date: 09/20/2007

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Class action suit filed on behalf of defendants facing misdemeanor charges in the municipal courts of Mount Vernon and Burlington, in Skagit County, Washington.  The complaint alleges, among other things, that the contract defenders are routinely in violation of their performance obligations to their public clients, and thus the municipalities are liable for a constructive denial of the class's 6th Amendment right to counsel.

Author/Organization: Terrell Marshall Daudt & Willie PLLC
Publication Date: 06/09/2011

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Gideon Alert: Mississippi takes first step toward unified statewide system

BY David Carroll on Friday, June 10, 2011 at 2:55 PM

The Mississippi Office of State Public Defender was created earlier this session with the passage of SB 2563 consolidating the existing Office of Indigent Appeals and the Office of Capital Defense Counsel. The new office is tasked with providing “training and services to public defenders practicing in all state, county and municipal courts” and making recommendations for a future unified, statewide trial-level system. On June 9, 2011, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced the appointment of Ms. Leslie Lee as the first State Public Defender.