JSERI Blog Archives

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gideon Alert: High Court Focuses on the Right to Effective Counsel in Plea Bargaining

The meaning of the Sixth Amendment’s promise of “effective counsel” has taken on additional dimensions over the past few weeks. On March 21, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions exploring the right to effective assistance of counsel during plea bargaining. In Missouri v.

10:46 AM
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gideon Alert: Michigan takes first steps to fulfilling Gideon’s promise

On October 13, 2011, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issued Executive Order No. 2011-12 establishing an Indigent Defense Advisory Commission (Commission).  The Commission is charged to make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature for statewide “improvements to the system of providing legal representation for indigent criminal defendants.”  The recommendations from the 14-member, bi-partisan Commission must ensure that: “indigent defense is free from undue political interference and conflicts of interest;” “the right to counsel is delivered by effective counsel at each critical stage of the proceedings in a manner that is consistent throughout the state;” and, “government-funded criminal defense lawyers are sufficiently trained and supervised, appropriately qualified, and adequately compensated.”  The Commission must meet their charge in a manner that is fiscally responsible and cost-effective, while being “responsive to jurisdictional variances and local community needs.” Findings and recommendations are due to the Legislature and Governor no later than July 15, 2012.

4:12 PM
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gideon Alert: Michigan Bar task force recommends how to deliver justice in the face of diminishing returns

“By almost every measure, indigent criminal defense as a whole in Michigan falls far short of accepted standards, undermining the quality of justice, jeopardizing public safety, and creating large and avoidable costs.  Michigan’s public defense system has fallen far short of acceptable standards for decades and is worsening … The cost of properly fixing the system is great; the cost of not fixing it is greater.” This is the conclusion reached about indigent defense services in the State Bar of Michigan’s “Judicial Crossroads Task Force” report Delivering Justice in the Face of Diminishing Returns, released January 26, 2011.  The report summarizes the conclusions of a Bar-convened task force composed of twenty-nine leaders of the Bar, business, civic and political communities, including 14 judges.

7:16 PM
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gideon Alert: As Michigan Supreme Court again reinstates ACLU Duncan lawsuit, the Race to the Bottom continues in Chippewa and Bay counties

On April 30, 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously ordered the American Civil Liberties Union class action lawsuit in Duncan v. Michigan to move forward, only to reverse itself on July 16, 2010 in a 4-3 order issued on reconsideration.  By granting summary judgment in favor of the Governor and State of Michigan at that time, most people (including this author) assumed the court had put an end to any opportunity for the plaintiffs to prove they are being denied the effective right to counsel as a result of Michigan’s inadequate and ineffective system of public defense.  (For more information on the Duncan case and orders, see our earlier Gideon Alerts here and here.)  However, on November 30, 2010, the Court issued a third order, reversing itself yet again with another 4-3 vote, that reinstates the original unanimous April 30th order. 
2:11 PM
Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gideon Alert: Innocence Project reports 81% of innocent exonerees' IAC claims wrongly denied

A new report by The Innocence Project documents how difficult it is for defendants to win their claims that their trial attorneys provided ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC). Of the first 255 people exonerated through DNA evidence, approximately 1 out of every five had raised claims in their appeals that their trial attorney was ineffective.  Appeals courts rejected those claims in the majority of cases (81%).

7:07 AM
Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gideon Alert: Michigan Supreme Court reverses its unanimous 2-month-old decision in ACLU class action lawsuit

The Michigan Supreme Court entered a stunning Order on July 16, 2010 reversing its unanimous decision of just two months ago in the American

8:08 AM