Funding

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

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).

Gideon Alert: North Carolina attorneys leave appointed counsel panels in droves

BY David Carroll on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 11:05 AM

On May 4, 2011, the House side of North Carolina’s General Assembly passed a budget bill (HB 200) that cuts annual funding for the statewide Indigent Defense Services (IDS) by roughly $11 million, or more than 9% of their previous year’s budget.  The threatened cut is especially drastic because, based on projected need for the remainder of this fiscal year, IDS expects to be nearly $12.8 million short.  In the past, the legislature would make a one-time appropriation to IDS to make up for any end-of-the-year shortfall, but the current legislative leadership has made it clear that such practices will not continue. This means the legislature is expecting IDS to pay for this year’s deficit out of next year’s reduced budget.  IDS would have to operate for all of the 2011-2012 fiscal year with only 80% of the budget it had in 2010-2011, and this at a time when IDS caseloads are increasing.  (Click here for more information on IDS and how North Carolina prosecutors pushed for these cuts).  Most locals expect the budget bill to pass the Senate, with sufficient votes in the Assembly to override any gubernatorial veto.  

North Carolina Bar Association letter to the Governor and the General Assembly regarding the impact of proposed budget legislation on the delivery of right to counsel services statewide.

Author/Organization: North Carolina Bar Association
Publication Date: 05/05/2011

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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.

Gideon Alert: Philadelphia death penalty assigned counsel rates challenged

BY David Carroll on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 3:28 PM

On April 6, 2011, the Atlantic Center for Constitutional Representation (ACCR) filed a motion in four court-appointed death penalty cases arguing that the rate of attorney compensation Philadelphia County pays in capital cases is so low as to be unconstitutional, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The petition seeks one of two remedies: a) adequate compensation in each of the four cases, or b) not allowing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to seek the death penalty in each case.

Gideon Alert: Facing an $18M indigent defense deficit, Iowa can no longer afford its current criminal justice system

BY Jon Mosher on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 2:56 PM

The Iowa State Public Defender is a 100% state-funded, statewide agency.  Though the majority of indigent defense services are provided by staffed public defenders, the State Public Defender contracts with private attorneys to provide representation in areas not covered by staff attorneys and to handle overload of the primary system.  On March 4, 2011 the State Public Defender posted a message on its website that the indigent defense fund used to pay private and contract attorneys was out of money.  More than a month later, lawyers are still not being paid to represent indigent clients.  

Gideon Alert: North Carolina prosecutors cry foul over disparate funding

BY David Carroll on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 9:35 AM

On March 30, 2011, North Carolina prosecutors made a PowerPoint presentation to the state legislature claiming to be out-resourced by the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS).  Asserting that IDS attorneys only handle half of the total criminal caseload handled by prosecutors yet outspend the district attorneys by nearly 43.5% ($132 million to $92 million), one district attorney was quoted in the Progressive Pulse as saying, “We’re outspent and outgunned every day in the courtroom.” (Full PowerPoint presentation is available here. Please note the presentation contains autopsy photos some may find inappropriate).

Gideon Alert: Budget deal threatens to gut New York indigent defense efforts before they begin

BY David Carroll on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 12:31 PM

In his February 15, 2011 State of the Judicary speech, New York's Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman quoted a Commission finding that "New York's indigent defense system is severely dysfunctional and structurally incapable of providing poor defendants with effective legal representation."  "Fortunately," he continued, "there is finally cause for optimism thanks to the Legislature's historic creation last June of an Indigent Legal Services Board and a State Office of Indigent Legal Services, the ILS Office."  This week, a budget deal was struck slashing in half the budget for that new office, as reported in a March 28, 2011 press release from the Justice Fund and on March 29 by the North Country Gazette.  The budget compromise was reached after a Senate proposal to eliminate the newly formed office altogether.  (The Senate proposal was an earlier iteration -- S2807-B -- of the bill that is now S2807-C.)

Trial-level right to counsel systems and the ethical obligations of indigent defense attorneys

BY on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 4:52 PM

"Ethical Obligations of Indigent Defense Attorneys to Their Clients" provides a basic introduction to the provision of indigent defense services in courts throughout the country and the ethical obligations of the attorney who provide these services.