Judicial Branches

Gideon Alert: Proposed Washington Supreme Court standards give focus to national caseload debate

BY David Carroll on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 3:16 PM

On October 31, 2011, the public comment period closed on proposed Washington State Supreme Court standards that would implement many of the American Bar Association’s Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System.  These proposed standards have been long in the making.  The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) Council on Public Defense developed the standards now being proposed for Supreme Court approval after months of seeking input from numerous stakeholders and interested parties.  Nonetheless, in the final days open for public comment, a flurry of opposition was mounted by local prosecutors, county and city policymakers, judges, the State Legislature, and even some public defense providers.  [All public comments are available on the Court’s website here].

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 Court is considering an amendment to Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 13 to provide for an alternative method of compensating attorneys who provide legal services to indigent persons pursuant to the rule. In summary, proposed new Section 7 of the rule would authorize the Administrative Director of the Courts to enter into contracts with attorneys, law firms or associations of attorneys to provide legal services to indigent persons for a fixed fee.

Author/Organization: Tennessee Supreme Court
Publication Date: 07/2011

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The Constitution Project's response to Tennessee Court's solicitation for public comment on its proposed rule change allowing for flat-fee contracting in conflict cases.

Author/Organization: The Constitution Project
Publication Date: 08/19/2011

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David Carroll's response to Tennessee Court's solicitation for public comment on its proposed rule change allowing for flat-fee contracting in conflict cases.

Author/Organization: David Carroll, NLADA
Publication Date: 08/17/2011

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David Carroll's letter to the Justices of the Nevada Supreme Court argues their recent administrative docket order (ADKT411) established clear performance guidelines for public defense attorneys, thereby requiring an adjustment of Washoe County's so-called early case resolution (ECR) program to meet the Court's guidelines.

Author/Organization: David Carroll, NLADA
Publication Date: 04/18/2008

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AL Chief Justice echoes call for criminal justice reform

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 4:52 PM

On March 8, Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb delivered the annual State of the Judiciary address, in which she urged the legislature to end the state's overreliance on incarceration of non-violent offenders. "[W]e must lock up violent and serious offenders for lengthy sentences so they cannot continue to harm innocent people.  However, where nonviolent offenders are concerned, there is an alternative to the costly cycle of crime, incarceration, and reoffending.  We need to be certain we are locking up those of whom we are afraid – not just those with whom we are mad."

TX Chief Justice speaks out on indigent defense and juvenile justice issues

BY David Carroll on Friday, February 25, 2011 at 3:48 PM

On February 23, 2011, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson gave his state of the judiciary before the 82nd state legislature.  Texas has two high courts – the Supreme Court for civil and juvenile matters, and the Court of Criminal Appeals for criminal matters.  Though Justice Jefferson heads the civil high court, he nonetheless felt compelled to speak about indigent defense needs in the state.  Bemoaning the fact that Texas ranks “among the lowest of the 50 states” in right to counsel per capita expenditures, he urged the legislature not to go forward with projected cuts to the indigent defense budget.  The right to counsel is primarily a county responsibility in Texas, with the state making limited contributions through the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense, which provides state funding, requires local planning for indigent defense and reporting of expenditures, and provides an array of resources for counties to improve these services.  A cut to their budget “would drain the system of resources we need to assure indigent criminal defendants get competent lawyers who make the system fair.”

Nevada Supreme Court orders uniform public defense case counting definitions

BY David Carroll on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM

On February 15, 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court adopted a court order requiring all Nevada counties to use a uniform definition of a “case” in reporting right to counsel caseload data.  The definition adopted in Nevada for the time being counts as a single case “a single defendant in a single charging document.”  The Order expressly notes that this measure “will under report caseload at times when one defendant is charged with separate crimes from separate incidents that may necessitate indigent defense counsel to treat the appointment as multiple cases.”   The court agreed with the definition supported by the Conference of State Court Administrators and the National Center for State Courts, first established in their joint 1989 publication State Court Model Statistical Dictionary. That definition instructs administrators to “[c]ount each defendant and all charges involved in a single incident as a single case.”  The Court adopted the modified definition of a case because of the current state of case-tracking technology available throughout the state.  If Nevada develops the case-tracking capacity to “accurately count cases in line with the national model,” the Court advises that they intend to revisit the newly adopted definition.

On August 16, 2007, a public defense attorney in Portage County, Ohio was appointed to represent a client on the very day the client's case was set to go to trial by jury.  The attorney asked for a delay to investigate and prepare, but the judge only gave him an extended 2 1/2 hour lunch break.  Unable to proceed with the trial, the attorney was arrested, convicted, and sentenced by the judge for contempt of court.

This Resolution issued, commending the public defense attorney for defending his client's right to effective assistance of counsel, and condemning the judge's actions.

Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
Publication Date: 08/25/2007

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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