JSERI Blog Archives

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gideon Alert: New Mexico Voters Approve Independence of Public Defender

Among the recent election results, the passage of a Constitutional Amendment in New Mexico stands as a significant milestone in public defense reform.  The state is now in compliance with Principle #1 of the ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System – that the “public defense function, including the selection, funding, and payment of defense counsel, is independent.”

4:57 PM
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
Monday, December 12, 2011

Gideon Alert: State-sanctioned commission finds Pennsylvania defaulting on the Sixth Amendment

On December 8, 2011, Pennsylvania’s Joint State Government Commission issued its report, A Constitutional Default: Services to Indigent Criminal Defendants in Pennsylvania, concluding that public defense providers labor “under an obsolete, purely localized system,” and that the structure of services “impedes efforts to represent clients effectively.” Echoing the 2003 report of the Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Judicial System, the new report states:

3:46 PM
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Underrepresentation in Kentucky misdemeanor courts

“An inevitable consequence of volume that large is the almost total preoccupation in such a court with the movement of cases.  The calendar is long, speed often is substituted for care, and casually arranged out-of-court compromise too often is substituted for adjudication.  Inadequate attention tends to be given to the individual defendant, whether, in protecting his rights, sifting the facts at trial, deciding the social risk he presents, or determining how to deal with him after conviction.  The frequent result is futility and failure.” [Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 (1972), affording the right to counsel to every case with a potential jail sentence.]

4:34 PM
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gideon Alert: New Orleans DA questions appointed counsel for those who make bail

Bail is often posted by someone else on behalf of a defendant.  Another person may have all sorts of reasons for wanting to get the defendant out of jail.  For example, parents of an adult defendant may find themselves serving as caretaker for the defendant’s children while the defendant is in jail, or a defendant’s in-laws may want the defendant to get back to work to support the family.  But these people may not have a similar or any incentive to hire a lawyer to defend the charge against the defendant.  The assets of others cannot be considered in determining whether the defendant is indigent and entitled to a public lawyer, because others cannot be compelled to hire a lawyer for the defendant.  

10:48 AM
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gideon Alert: Proposed Washington Supreme Court standards give focus to national caseload debate

On October 31, 2011, the public comment period closed on proposed Washington State Supreme Court standards that would implement many of the American Bar Association’s Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System.  These proposed standards have been long in the making.  The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) Council on Public Defense developed the standards now being proposed for Supreme Court approval after months of seeking input from numerous stakeholders and interested parties.  Nonetheless, in the final days open for public comment, a flurry of opposition was mounted by local prosecutors, county and city policymakers, judges, the State Legislature, and even some public defense providers.  [All public comments are available on the Court’s website here].

4:16 PM