Standards

Missouri’s chronic right to counsel problems revisited

BY Jon Mosher on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 1:15 PM

In a five-part spotlight series published on February 5, 2011, the Springfield News-Leader has focused once more on the state of Missouri’s chronic failure to provide a meaningful right to counsel as required under the Constitution.  Like all states, Missouri must provide counsel at public expense to those facing criminal charges who cannot otherwise afford to hire their own attorney.  The state intends for all right to counsel services to be provided to all indigent defendants through its statewide public defender system, but there are more people who require the public defender system’s services than it is set up to provide for.  Instead, the Office of the Missouri Public Defender has only enough resources to provide constitutionally effective representation to a percentage of those who are entitled to public representation.  

The Missouri Public Defender Commission's budget is meant to provide attorneys for all indigent criminal defendants, but the total number of people needing services has grown too large. So, while every indigent defendant must receive an attorney, the overarching question before the Pratte Court was whether the Commission or the judges are responsible for deciding which clients will receive services through the budget of the Public Defender Commission and which clients will have to receive services through some other budget. "When current state funding is inadequate to provide the effective representation to all of Missouri's indigent defendants that the United States and Missouri constitutions require, the commission's rules present an approach to dealing with the situation."

Author/Organization: Supreme Court of Missouri
Publication Date: 12/08/2009

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"Improving Criminal Justice Systems Through Expanded Strategies and Innovative Collaborations." Report of the National Symposium on Indigent Defense, February 1999.

Author/Organization: US Department of Justice
Publication Date: 1999

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The National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals was created in 1971 to formulate for the first time national criminal justice standards and goals for crime reduction and prevention at the State and local levels. In 1973, the National Advisory Commission issued six extensive reports on the following topics: 1) A National Strategy to Reduce Crime; 2) Criminal Justice System; 3) Police; 4) Courts; 5) Corrections; and 6) Community Crime Prevention. The Report of the Task Force on the Courts sets standards for the flow of cases through each stage of the criminal justice process, as well as basic standards for each of the system's component parts, including courts, court administration, prosecution and defense. Printed here are the black letter standards from Chapter 13 of that report, entitled "The Defense," omitting commentary, references and related standards.

Author/Organization: National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals
Publication Date: 1973

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From 1974 to 1976, following consultations with the Attorney General and the Administrator of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association convened a 35-member National Study Commission on Defense Services, with LEAA grant support. The Commission's charter was to utilize the standards developed by the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and goals in 1973 as a "basic underpinning for an extensive study of defense services aimed at preparing a blueprint of guidelines and procedures which would meet the nation's indigent defense needs."

Author/Organization: National Study Commission on Defense Services, NLADA
Publication Date: 1976

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Gideon Alert: Michigan Bar task force recommends how to deliver justice in the face of diminishing returns

BY David Carroll on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 6:16 PM

“By almost every measure, indigent criminal defense as a whole in Michigan falls far short of accepted standards, undermining the quality of justice, jeopardizing public safety, and creating large and avoidable costs.  Michigan’s public defense system has fallen far short of acceptable standards for decades and is worsening … The cost of properly fixing the system is great; the cost of not fixing it is greater.” This is the conclusion reached about indigent defense services in the State Bar of Michigan’s “Judicial Crossroads Task Force” report Delivering Justice in the Face of Diminishing Returns, released January 26, 2011.  The report summarizes the conclusions of a Bar-convened task force composed of twenty-nine leaders of the Bar, business, civic and political communities, including 14 judges.

Is one model of delivering right to counsel services inherently superior?

BY Jon Mosher on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 5:05 PM

From time to time, NLADA will publish a more in-depth explanation of a particular topic, concept, or standard. Today, we have posted one such article: Understanding the debate about full-time public defender offices or appointment of private attorneys.

Debate on Massachusetts public defense proposal continues

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 5:16 PM

The discussion about Massachusetts Gov. Patrick's proposed changes to the state's public defender system continues. Today, David Carroll, NLADA research director and author of Gideon Alerts, appeared on WBUR's Radio Boston show to provide national context to the discussion (stream online here).

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

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In 2008, the Board of Commissioners of Cook County was threatening to (and ultimately did) fire the chief Public Defender for the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, which provides indigent defense services in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois.  Because it was perceived that the Public Defender was threatened with firing due to his efforts to comply with national standards for indigent defense systems and services, this Resolution was issued. 

Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
Publication Date: 05/02/2008

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