The Louisiana legislature passed the Louisiana Public Defender Act of 2007, 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.” This report finds that the intention of the Louisiana legislature has yet to take root in Louisiana’s 15th Judicial District. There remains critical work to be done on the local level in fully implementing the significant reforms already achieved.
At the request of the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission and the Idaho Juvenile Justice Commission, NLADA evaluated adult & juvenile trial-level public defense services, based on a seven-county sample. This 2010 report finds that the state of Idaho fails to provide the level of representation required by our Constitution for those who cannot afford counsel in its criminal and juvenile courts.
This Article briefly quantifies what currently exists in our right to counsel systems -- what we know, and what we do not know. It is an excerpt adapted from Phyllis E. Mann, Ethical Obligations of Indigent Defense Attorneys to Their Clients, 75 Mo. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming fall 2010).
NLADA assessed the office of the Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia (PDS) against prevailing national standards and best practices. This 2008 report finds that the client-centered PDS stands in contradistinction to the national phenomenon of indigent defense systems in crisis.
NLADA evaluated the provision of right to counsel services in Hamilton County, Ohio (Cincinnati) at the request of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. This 2008 report found that poor people charged with crimes and facing a potential loss of liberty are not afforded the constitutional protections demanded by the U.S. Constitution, and that the solutions require statutory authority from the state legislature, funding beyond what the county can provide, and the cooperation of the courts, the prosecutors, law enforcement, and the private bar.
NLADA evaluated indigent defense services in Michigan, based on a ten-county sample, under a concurrent resolution of the Michigan Legislature. This 2008 report finds that the state of Michigan fails to provide competent representation to those who cannot afford counsel in its criminal courts.
NLADA evaluated the Office of the State Appellate Public Defender (SAPD) at their request to assess the office's development over its eight-year existence, note its accomplishments, and identify improvements in service. This 2007 report offers assessment and recommendations with the understanding that even a competent appellate defender office is still capable of improvement and advancement.
Commissioned by the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Louisiana Bar Foundation, this NLADA report focused on New Orleans' system for providing legal representation to low-income people charged with crimes, concluding that the New Orleans indigent defense crisis could not be fixed without comprehensive statewide reform and setting out a step-by-step blue print for legislative action in the 2007 Legislative session. Those reforms were eventually successful, with the passage of Act 307, The Louisiana Public Defender Act, creating the public defender system in place today.
NLADA assessment of the right to counsel in seven Montana counties. Submitted in White v. Martz, a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Montana. That litigation led to wholesale legislative changes in 2005, creating a new statewide public defender system in Montana. With its legislative effort, Montana became the first state to intentionally incorporate each of the ABA Ten Principles into the Public Defender Act.
NLADA studied a rural Parish in Louisiana -- Avoyelles Parish --to understand how public defense services were provided in non-urban jurisdictions. This 2004 report finds that, in direct violation of state and federal constitutions, Louisiana government had constructed a disparate system that fostered systemic ineffective assistance of counsel due primarily to inadequate funding and a lack of independence from undue political interference.