Standards

Gideon Alert: DOJ data confirms existence of right to counsel workload crisis in the United States

BY David Carroll on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 10:56 AM

On September 16, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released additional results from its 2007 public defender survey in two separate reports.  These reports on state public defender programs and county-based public defender programs detail the existence of serious deficiencies in the way states and counties deliver Sixth Amendment right to counsel services, most notably in the excessive caseloads public defenders are forced to carry.

Gideon Alert: Tennessee Supreme Court issues advisory opinion on sitting prosecutor appointed to public defender commission

BY David Carroll on Friday, September 10, 2010 at 10:20 AM

The State of Tennessee provides the majority of the funding for the right to counsel and trial-level services are provided through a statewide system of elected public defenders from the state’s 31 judicial districts.  District 20 (Davidson County - Nashville) and District 30 (Shelby County - Memphis) are served by non-elected local public defender offices, which existed prior to creation of the state system in 1989. [Correction: The original posting of this article contained an error.  Davidson County's public defender is an elected official.]

The Tennessee court establishes that the Lt. Governor's appointment of a sitting district attorney general to the Post-Conviction Defender Commission violates prevailing standards.

Author/Organization: Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court
Publication Date: 2010

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Gideon Alert: Legislative sponsor of the Montana Public Defender Act of 2005 calls for the system to be dismantled

BY David Carroll on Monday, August 2, 2010 at 2:45 PM

On June 9, 2005, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer signed into law the Public Defender Act of 2005.  The Act created an independent 11-member public defender commission that is statutorily bound to issue standards and to hire and oversee a Chief State Public Defender and other centralized staff.  At the same time, the Act provides the flexibility required to address the diverse needs of a geographically large yet sparsely populated state.  Deputy Chief Defenders operating in eleven distinct geographic regions monitor and enforce commission standards – some by relying on public defender offices, others by employing contract defenders.  Indigent defense providers in the regions are supported by the Chief State Defender’s centralized staff, including: a Director of Training; the State Appellate Office; a State Serious Crimes Defender Unit; and, Director of Management Information Services.

Published at 22 St. Thomas L. Rev. 204 (Fall 2009). Bennett Brummer argues: " My basic premise is that defender excessive workload is a systemic problem, not ony an indigent defense problem.  Excessive workload could not persist without the active and conscious dereliction of stewardship obligations by state and federal goverenments and criminal justice stakeholders.  The complicity of judges, the bar, prosecutors, defenders and funders and the violation of their oaths to support the constitution are required for excessive workload to become the norm."

Author/Organization: Bennett H. Brummer
Publication Date: 2009

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Gideon Alert: Striking a balance in protecting defendant-lawyer communications in jails

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 5:25 AM

A recent story reported by The Ledger out of Polk County (Bartow), Florida tells of a conflict between the Sheriff’s Department and the Public Defender Office.  The Sherif

Correspondence related to the recording of jail telephone calls in Polk County, Florida.

Author/Organization: J. Marion Moorman
Publication Date: 06/04/2010

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Correspondence related to the recording of jail telephone calls in Polk County, Florida.

Author/Organization: Cassandra I. Denmark
Publication Date: 05/27/2010

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Gideon Alert: Ohio Public Defender Commission to force change in Hamilton County (Cincinnati)

BY David Carroll on Monday, June 28, 2010 at 11:33 AM

On June 27th, 2010 the Cincinnati Enquirer reported about how the Ohio Public Defender Commission (OPDC) is forcing change to public defense services in Hamilton County, by withholding state reimbursements and potentially suing the county ov

Gideon Alert: Best practices on display in Oregon and Santa Clara County (San Jose), California

BY David Carroll on Friday, June 25, 2010 at 12:24 PM

As jurisdictions across the country struggle to overcome right to counsel systemic deficiencies, it is valuable to remember that some jurisdictions do serve as best practice models.  For example, the Oregon Public Defender Services Commission has total authority to establish and maintain a public defense system that ensures quality, effectiveness, efficiency and accountabil