Justice Policy Institute releases report on the Right to Counsel

BY Jon Mosher on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 2:27 PM

The Justice Policy Institute has released a report linking states' struggles to provide effective right to counsel services with excessive corrections costs.  The report, System Overload: The Costs of Under-Resourcing Public Defense, highlights the impact of overwhelmed public defense systems and "how the busting-at-the-seams systems affect state and county budgets, the lives of those behind bars, the impact on their families, and the challenges of re-entering communities after serving time."

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.

Publication Date: 07/19/2011

New leader sworn in to run DOJ Access to Justice Initiative

BY Jon Mosher on Friday, June 3, 2011 at 11:47 AM

 On June 2, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Mark Childress was sworn in to replace Prof. Lawrence Tribe as senior counselor of DOJ's Access to Justice Initiative. This announcement comes nearly six months after Professor Tribe stepped down from the post due to health reasons. Prof. Tribe said of Childress, "I'm sure he'll roll up his sleeves and make a huge difference to ordinary people." The DOJ press release includes many of Childress' previous accomplishments and positions both in and out of government, which can be found here.

Pre-trial detention and a nationwide call for reform

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 2:15 PM

On June 2, 2011, an article by The Crime Report explored the crescendo of opinion and research calling for a fundamental reform to our state courts' money bail system.  According to the loudest critics, the current system "costs 9 billion taxpayer dollars annually, much of which could be saved by using recognized tools to measure the risks that a defendant will not return for required court appearances if released."  

This American Council of Chief Defenders Policy Statement calls for a new commitment by all criminal justice stakeholders to ensure fair and appropriate pretrial release decision-making, and outlines key action steps for each pretrial actor.


Author/Organization: American Council of Chief Defenders
Publication Date: 06/04/2011

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Assistant AG Laurie Robinson addresses juvenile justice convention

BY Jon Mosher on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:21 PM

On May 23, 2011, Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson addressed the annual meeting of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice in Washington DC. In her remarks, Assistant AG Robinson renewed the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs' commitment to focus on juvenile justice issues, in particular with the ongoing work of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

Lawmakers across country examine the costs of indigent defense

BY Phyllis E. Mann on Monday, May 9, 2011 at 12:42 PM

This brief May 9, 2011 article from the Associated Press, via the Greenfield, Indiana Daily Reporter notes that Tennessee is intensifying its review of billings from attorneys paid to represent indigent clients.  The impetus for this increased examination of costs for defending indigent clients is a short-fall in the fund to pay those costs.  “[A]uditing has been stepped up to conserve money,” the AP reports.

National standards for the provision of indigent defense representation provide the best yardstick for measuring the extent to which clients receive the representation guaranteed to them by the Sixth Amendment. (See Standards for the Delivery of Public Defense Services.) These national standards are generally of two types: (1) attorney performance standards, which set out the specifics of what each attorney should do in representing each client; and (2) systemic or structural standards, which establish the specifics of the defense system in which each attorney works. Here we have listed all of the pertinent standards, divided into these two categories. In some instances a single publication addresses both attorney performance and system; in those cases the publication is listed under both categories.

Author/Organization: Jon Mosher
Publication Date: 03/29/2011

New Article: A Quick Guide to National Standards for Indigent Defense

BY Jon Mosher on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 12:00 AM

From time to time, NLADA will publish an in-depth explanation of a particular topic, concept, or standard related to indigent defense services.  Today, we have posted one such article: A Quick Guide to National Standards for Indigent Defense.

High Court hears arguments on right to counsel in civil contempt proceedings with possible jail time

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 12:23 PM

On March 23, 2011, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Turner v. Rogers – a case squarely addressing whether an indigent person can be jailed on civil contempt without being given a lawyer to represent him.  Michael Turner served a year in prison when he was held in contempt by a South Carolina court for failing to timely pay child support, but he had to represent himself in court and had no lawyer to represent him.