Standards

Adopted in February 2002, the American Bar Association's Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System distill the existing voluminous ABA standards for public defense systems to their most basic elements, which officials and policymakers can readily review and apply.  In the words of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, the Ten Principles “constitute the fundamental criteria to be met for a public defense delivery system to deliver effective and efficient, high quality, ethical, conflict-free representation to accused persons who cannot afford to hire an attorney.”  Our nation’s chief law enforcement officer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, has called the ABA Ten Principles the “building blocks” of a functioning public defense system.

Author/Organization:
Publication Date: 2010

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.”

Gideon Alert: High Court Focuses on the Right to Effective Counsel in Plea Bargaining

BY Edwin A. Burnette on Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 10:46 AM

The meaning of the Sixth Amendment’s promise of “effective counsel” has taken on additional dimensions over the past few weeks. On March 21, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions exploring the right to effective assistance of counsel during plea bargaining. In Missouri v.

Gideon Alert: State-sanctioned commission finds Pennsylvania defaulting on the Sixth Amendment

BY David Carroll on Monday, December 12, 2011 at 2:46 PM

On December 8, 2011, Pennsylvania’s Joint State Government Commission issued its report, A Constitutional Default: Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants in Pennsylvania, concluding that public defense providers labor “under an obsolete, purely localized system,” and that the structure of services “impedes efforts to represent clients effectively.” Echoing the 2003 report of the Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Judicial System, the new report states:

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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Underrepresentation in Kentucky misdemeanor courts

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 3:34 PM

“An inevitable consequence of volume that large is the almost total preoccupation in such a court with the movement of cases.  The calendar is long, speed often is substituted for care, and casually arranged out-of-court compromise too often is substituted for adjudication.  Inadequate attention tends to be given to the individual defendant, whether, in protecting his rights, sifting the facts at trial, deciding the social risk he presents, or determining how to deal with him after conviction.  The frequent result is futility and failure.” [Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 (1972), affording the right to counsel to every case with a potential jail sentence.]

Gideon Alert: New Orleans DA questions appointed counsel for those who make bail

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 9:48 AM

Bail is often posted by someone else on behalf of a defendant.  Another person may have all sorts of reasons for wanting to get the defendant out of jail.  For example, parents of an adult defendant may find themselves serving as caretaker for the defendant’s children while the defendant is in jail, or a defendant’s in-laws may want the defendant to get back to work to support the family.  But these people may not have a similar or any incentive to hire a lawyer to defend the charge against the defendant.  The assets of others cannot be considered in determining whether the defendant is indigent and entitled to a public lawyer, because others cannot be compelled to hire a lawyer for the defendant.  

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].

The Washington State Bar Association presented these proposed standards for the Washington Supreme Court's consideration. Public comment closed October 31, 2011. 

Author/Organization: Washington State Bar Association
Publication Date: 2011

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This paper discusses the judicial underpinnings of the ABA Ten Principles and shows that the Principles are the foundational standards that describe the obligations of indigent defense systems in terms no one could misunderstand, providing guideposts for assessing the reasonable performance of those systems.   

Author/Organization: David Carroll, Phyllis Mann, and Jon Mosher
Publication Date: 10/26/2011

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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