Public Defense Reform

Gideon Alert: New Mexico Voters Approve Independence of Public Defender

BY on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Among the recent election results, the passage of a Constitutional Amendment in New Mexico stands as a significant milestone in public defense reform.  The state is now in compliance with Principle #1 of the ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System – that the “public defense function, including the selection, funding, and payment of defense counsel, is independent.”

U.S. Government Accountability Office Issues Report on Federal Funding for Indigent Defense

BY Edwin A. Burnette on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 6:22 PM

On May 9, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report assessing the ways in which the federal government has provided funding and other federal support to the states for indigent defense for the last seven years.

Final report of the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission's Task Force and Advisory Committee on Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants: "While recognizing the difficult fiscal environment the Commonwealth faces currently, the advisory committee urges the General Assembly to perform its duties under the U.S. Constitution and as a civilized society by finally addressing the deficiencies that undermine its indigent criminal defense system by reforming the system to comply with national standards."

Author/Organization: Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission
Publication Date: 12/06/2011

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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

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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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.

Mississippi has 82 counties and a statewide population estimated in 2009 at roughly 2.95 million. The felony trial courts are structured through 22 Circuit Court districts, with each comprising multiple counties.  As the NAACP-LDF so succinctly stated, with the exception of death penalty cases and felony appeals (since 2005), “the State of Mississippi does not contribute one dollar towards the representation of poor defendants. Instead, it requires counties to shoulder the full obligation of providing lawyers for the poor.”

Author/Organization: Phyllis E. Mann
Publication Date: 2010