Caselaw

Gideon Alert: Cochise County, Arizona contemplates contract system in light of important State Court decision

BY David Carroll on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 1:55 PM

“The insidiousness of overburdening defense counsel is that it can result in concealing from the courts, and particularly the appellate courts, the nature and extent of damage that is done to defendants by their attorneys' excessive caseloads,” declared the Arizona State Supreme Court in State v. Joe U. Smith, 140 Ariz. 355, 681 P.2d 1374 (Ariz. Apr. 4, 1984).  The Smith Court found that the lowest bid system for obtaining indigent defense counsel in Mohave County (Kingman) violated the defendant’s right to due process.  In light of the Smith case, Arizona counties struggle to provide fiscal predictability to the taxpaying public, while ensuring the rights to counsel and due process of each indigent defendant. The Wilcox Range News reported on August 10, 2011 that one county – Cochise County (Bisbee) – is currently considering a proposal to switch from an assigned counsel system paying an hourly rate of $50 to a system paying a “flat fee of $150 per misdemeanor case and $900 per felony case.”

Ruling in Zarabia v. Bradshaw that “[i]t is impermissible for the presiding judge, in wholesale fashion, to transfer the public's constitutional obligation to pay the financial cost of indigent defense to the county's private lawyers,”  the Arizona Supreme Court reaffirmed that the principles expounded in State v. Joe U. Smith were the appropriate standard for gauging the effectiveness of a right to counsel system. 

Author/Organization: Arizona Supreme Court
Publication Date: 1996

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In finding that the lowest bid system for obtaining indigent defense counsel in Mohave County (Kingman) violated the defendant’s right to due process and right to counsel under Arizona and U.S. Constitutions, the state supreme court wrote: “The insidiousness of overburdening defense counsel is that it can result in concealing from the courts, and particularly the appellate courts, the nature and extent of damage that is done to defendants by their attorneys' excessive caseloads.”

Author/Organization: Arizona Supreme Court
Publication Date: 1984

Items contained in the NLADA Library do not and are not meant to constitute advice of any kind. Content in the NLADA Library is contributed by users. If you believe this material infringes your or any other person’s copyright or if you feel that the material is inappropriate, please report this to NLADA Staff by clicking below.

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Mississippi has 82 counties and a statewide population estimated in 2009 at roughly 2.95 million. The felony trial courts are structured through 22 Circuit Court districts, with each comprising multiple counties.  As the NAACP-LDF so succinctly stated, with the exception of death penalty cases and felony appeals (since 2005), “the State of Mississippi does not contribute one dollar towards the representation of poor defendants. Instead, it requires counties to shoulder the full obligation of providing lawyers for the poor.”

Author/Organization: Phyllis E. Mann
Publication Date: 2010