Delaware’s Indigent Defense Fails ‘The Vast Majority’


Three years ago, Attorney General Eric Holder called the American Bar Association's (ABA) “Ten Principles” the “basic building blocks of a well-functioning public defense system.

In Delaware, “both the primary and conflict indigent defense systems … fail the vast majority of the ABA Ten Principles,” according to a new study by the non-profit Sixth Amendment Center.

The 216-page report explores glaring weaknesses in the state's public defender system, with a focus on the pretrial stage.

Defendants are initially advised of their right to counsel, but “no formal activation of that right occurs unless the defendant is unfor­tunate enough to remain incarcerated pretrial.”

As a result, many defendants appear in court without representation.

The report notes that those who do invoke their right to counsel still face wide-ranging systemic deficiencies that often prevent their lawyers from providing adequate defense.

Read the full report HERE.

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