Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gideon Alert: Saddling poor defendants with high court-imposed debt is bad public policy

On October 14th, 2010, the USA Today editorialized that the practice of imposing high court-ordered debts on the backs of clients as part of sentencing in criminal cases –- including forcing indigent defendants to pay for the cost of their appointed attorneys -– actually heightens the chance that people may re-offend and is unsound public policy.

5:11 PM
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gideon Alert: MD Circuit Court finds right to counsel at bail hearings

On September 30, 2010, a Maryland Circuit Court determined that bail hearings are a critical stage of a criminal proceeding where an indigent person is entitled to be represented by an attorney.  The case, Richmond v. District Court of Maryland, involves eleven named petitioners who requested counsel at bail hearings and were denied.  They sought relief on behalf of themselves and all indigent persons denied counsel at such hearings.

12:15 PM
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gideon Alert: US Senate Judiciary introduces legislation to improve and enforce Sixth Amendment right to counsel services

On September 27, 2010, the United States Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced the “Justice For All Reauthorization Act of 2010” (JFAA 2010).  The Act includes provisions to assist states in improving Sixth Amendment right to counsel services, while simultaneously empowering the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sue those that do not.  In a press release, Senator Leahy said “[t]oday, we rededicate ourselves to building a criminal justice system in which the innocent remain free, the guilty are punished, and all sides have the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to advance the cause of justice.”

10:21 AM
Friday, September 17, 2010

Gideon Alert: DOJ data confirms existence of right to counsel workload crisis in the United States

On September 16, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released additional results from its 2007 public defender survey in two separate reports.  These reports on state public defender programs and county-based public defender programs detail the existence of serious deficiencies in the way states and counties deliver Sixth Amendment right to counsel services, most notably in the excessive caseloads public defenders are forced to carry.

10:56 AM
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
Friday, September 10, 2010

Gideon Alert: Tennessee Supreme Court issues advisory opinion on sitting prosecutor appointed to public defender commission

The State of Tennessee provides the majority of the funding for the right to counsel and trial-level services are provided through a statewide system of elected public defenders from the state’s 31 judicial districts.  District 20 (Davidson County - Nashville) and District 30 (Shelby County - Memphis) are served by non-elected local public defender offices, which existed prior to creation of the state system in 1989. [Correction: The original posting of this article contained an error.  Davidson County's public defender is an elected official.]

10:20 AM