Latinos now make up the largest subset of federal criminal defendants, and they are increasingly victimized in many jurisdictions by the same forms of unconscious bias that have been identified in the treatment of other minorities. A public defender in Arizona argues the best way to counter it is by using “race-conscious” strategies.
A recent legal settlement that won compensation for indigents denied the right to legal counsel in two South Carolina jurisdictions could ensure Sixth Amendment protections in municipal proceedings across the state—and elsewhere, argues one of the ACLU lawyers involved in the case.
Underfunding of indigent defense services is a major factor driving mass incarceration and racial bias in the U.S. justice system, more than 50 years after the Supreme Court ruled that everyone has a right to a lawyer regardless of ability to pay, says the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
Travis County, Tex., is actively working to lose its distinction as the largest local jurisdiction without a public defender. First it must overcome objections from bench and bar over protecting private defense lawyers’ role.
Prosecutors’ pursuit of convictions at any cost and public defenders’ insufficient resources have too often combined to thwart defendants’ chances of a fair trial. Here’s an alternative approach proposed by Miami’s public defender and a former deputy assistant attorney general.
After repeated warnings from stakeholders in the justice system, including the Supreme Court, Wisconsin has been hit with a federal class-action lawsuit over long delays in appointing lawyers for poor defendants in rural areas.
Defense attorneys spend more time with criminal defendants than anyone else in the justice system. So if they care about better outcomes, they need to go beyond their traditional roles, says the head of the Milwaukee Public Defender’s Office.
Constitutional guarantees of equal protection look hollow to poor, working-class Americans who are forced to turn to under-funded and overworked public defenders’ offices when they are in trouble with the law.