Standards

In August of 2009, the Maryland state public defender was fired.  She served at the pleasure of a three-person board, and each of those three people were appointed to the board directly by the Governor.  After months of disagreement between the public defender and the board, they fired her on a 2-1 vote after she refused to implement cuts and reorganization demanded by the board that included increasing the caseload of staff public defenders, disbanding the capital defense and juvenile protection divisions, closing a community-oriented defender office in Baltimore, and firing an African-American division chief.

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Publication Date: 2010

NLADA’s Performance Guidelines offer an excellent, comprehensive and worthwhile definition of what constitutes good solid trial lawyering.  They give realistic meaning to the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel and to the ultimate goal for all trial counsel: “zealous and quality representation.”

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Publication Date: 2010

A flat-fee contract pays a lawyer a single lump sum to handle an unlimited number of cases.  This type of contract creates a direct financial conflict of interest between the attorney and each client.  Because the lawyer will be paid the same amount, no matter how much or little he works on each case, it is in the lawyer’s personal interest to devote as little time as possible to each appointed case, leaving more time for the lawyer to do other more lucrative work.  Worse yet, many flat-fee contracts require the lawyer to pay all case-related expenses out of the single lump sum.  In this situation, it is in the lawyer’s personal interest to incur as little expense on behalf of clients as possible, so that more of the lump sum payment can go toward the lawyer’s fee.  Finally, some flat-fee contracts require the lawyer to hire other lawyers out of the same single lump sum, such as when an additional lawyer is required to represent a co-defendant or in other conflict case situations.  Such contracts are oriented solely toward capping defense costs at the lowest possible level, without regard to the lawyer’s ethical and constitutional duties to the client.

Author/Organization: Jon Mosher
Publication Date: 2010

On June 17, 2010, NLADA released Effective Assistance of Counsel: Implementing the Louisiana Public Defender Act of 2007, a report concluding that the Louisiana Public Defender Act of 2007 has yet to take root in Louisiana’s 15th Judicial District.

The Louisiana legislature passed the Louisiana Public Defender Act of 2007 (“Act 307”) on a bipartisan and overwhelming vote, with the expressed intent of ensuring that “all indigent criminal defendants who are eligible to have appointed counsel at public expense receive effective assistance of counsel at each critical stage of the proceeding” and “that the right to counsel is delivered by qualified and competent counsel in a manner that is fair and consistent throughout the state.”

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Publication Date: 2010

In 1985, Eddie Joe Lloyd was convicted in Detroit of the rape and murder of a teen-age girl. The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming.  Eddie Joe Lloyd’s written confession gave specific information about the crime scene that only the perpetrator could have known.  Police had him on tape admitting to the brutal acts.  It was a slam dunk case.  The jury took less than an hour to convict him of 1st degree felony murder.  Lamenting the lack of the death penalty in Michigan, the judge sent Eddie Joe to a maximum security prison for the remainder of his life without the possibility of parole.  Justice was served… except for one small problem – Eddie Joe Lloyd was innocent.

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Publication Date: 2010

Through a long series of cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has defined when it is, between arrest and conclusion of a case, that an indigent person facing loss of liberty is entitled to have a lawyer be appointed and represent them – this is referred to as when the right of counsel attaches.  In 2008 in Rothgery v. Gillespie County , the Court made clear that the right to counsel attaches “at the initial appearance before a judicial officer,” by whatever name that hearing is known in a given jurisdiction, but “generally the hearing at which ‘the magistrate informs the defendant of the charge in the complaint, and of various rights in further proceedings,’ and ‘determine[s] the conditions for pretrial release.’” 

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Publication Date: 2010

NLADA’s Justice Standards, Evaluation & Research Initiative (JSERI) evaluations have served as an impetus for a number of jurisdictions, including Louisiana and Michigan, to move toward establishing constitutionally effective indigent defense systems.

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Publication Date: 2010

Standards help defense attorneys, indigent defense systems, and states and counties know what is required of them to provide the right to counsel services guaranteed by our Constitution.  The strong pressures placed on public officials by favoritism, partisanship, and profits all underscore the need for standards to assure fundamental quality in all facets of government and all components

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Publication Date: 2010

Gideon Alert: US Senate Judiciary introduces legislation to improve and enforce Sixth Amendment right to counsel services

BY David Carroll on Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:21 AM

On September 27, 2010, the United States Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced the “Justice For All Reauthorization Act of 2010” (JFAA 2010).  The Act includes provisions to assist states in improving Sixth Amendment right to counsel services, while simultaneously empowering the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sue those that do not.  In a press release, Senator Leahy said “[t]oday, we rededicate ourselves to building a criminal justice system in which the innocent remain free, the guilty are punished, and all sides have the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to advance the cause of justice.”

Justice For All Act (JFAA) reauthorization bill, introduced in September 2010 by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.

Author/Organization: US Senator Patrick Leahy
Publication Date: 09/30/2010

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