State Public Defender

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.”

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.]

In 1978, the National Center for Defense Management provided recommendations for expansion of Kentucky's then-state defender agency, which was limited to appellate and post-conviction representation, to include trial-level representation. 

Author/Organization: National Center for Defense Management
Publication Date: 08/1978

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Report of the ABA's Bar Information Project's technical assistance to the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, provided by The Spangenberg Group. 

Author/Organization: The Spangenberg Group
Publication Date: 01/1998

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 The juvenile justice system in Kentucky has endured a substantial history of problems concerning its treatment of juvenile offenders and the lack of systemic advocacy and focused reform efforts. After years of public criticism, media attention, litigation challenging the conditions in Kentucky’s juvenile facilities, lack of access to the effective assistance of counsel and to the courts, and failure to provide adequate treatment, Kentucky officials began the long road to institutional change by the second half of the 1990’s. The creation of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the commitment of Governor Patton to help fix a broken juvenile justice system, and the Kentucky legislature’s move to invest millions of new dollars into these initiatives were the beginning.

Author/Organization: American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center
Publication Date: 09/2002

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Gideon Alert: Connecticut backslides on right to counsel

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 9:46 AM
Like indigent defense systems throughout the country, Connecticut has recently had to let go forty-two public defender employees, including 23 lawyers, and is planning to eliminate 33 more positions, as reported in  the July 21, 2011 Boston Globe.  This is the result of what the Globe summarized as “a funding crisis for the nation’s judicial systems,” while government officials and state employee unions in Connecticut battle for power over the too few remaining dollars (see the June 30, 2011 New York Times).  The difference between Connecticut and other states where similar lay-offs are occurring is that Connecticut’s right to counsel system has been closer than most states to fulfilling the promises of the Sixth Amendment.

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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The American Bar Association (ABA) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) are designing and implementing a pilot Public Defender Fellowship Program (PDFP) aimed at advancing best practices in indigent defense representation.

Author/Organization:
Publication Date: 07/19/2011

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.