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alcoholism

The Silent Threat to Justice

Stress is an occupational hazard for lawyers, driving some to alcoholism and substance abuse. But when public defenders succumb, it can also affect the right of the poorest individuals to a fair trial, a Crime Report investigation finds.

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scales of justice

Legal Aid for Capital Punishment Cases Depends on Where You Live: Study

A pro-death penalty “punitive culture” in some federal jurisdictions ensures that poor defendants in capital punishment cases never get the quality of public defense they are entitled to, argues a study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. The authors say their findings help explain the stark racial disparities in the application of death sentences across the U.S.

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Constitution Hall

Fix Your ‘Failing’ Public Defense System, ACLU Tells Nevada

A class-action lawsuit charging Nevada with violating its constitutional responsibility to ensure all citizens receive equal treatment before the law is aimed at pushing the state to fix its “utterly failing” public defense system, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). It’s the eighth such suit launched by the ACLU against states and counties.

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Why Public Defenders Are Themselves Being Sued

It is the duty of a public defender to defend people in court, but it’s becoming increasingly common for these defenders to have to defend themselves, reports the Christian Science Monitor. With public defense offices overworked and underpaid to the point of a “national crisis,” says former Attorney General Eric Holder, they are finding an unlikely ally in their efforts to gain the budgets and staffing necessary: the people who are suing them. This may be why Derwyn Bunton, chief […]

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Overwhelmed KY Public Defenders Mean Suspects Wrongly Imprisoned

The harried schedule of a Kentucky public defender juggling more than 30 cases underscores a problem the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy has grappled with for decades: Too many clients and not enough money mean public defenders are being stretched too thin, putting the quality of representation at risk, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Tim Young, chairman of the National Association for Public Defense, said the constitutional issues for indigent defendants across the nation are serious: “It means people are going […]

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Fixes Urged For UT Misdemeanor Defendants Who Lack Attorneys

Most defendants go through Utah's misdemeanor courts without an attorney, says a new report, echoing concerns about the court system nationally, says the Wall Street Journal. The Supreme Court says that a misdemeanor defendant facing potential jail time has a right to an attorney under the Sixth Amendment, and if he can't afford one, the government must provide counsel. Yet the millions of misdemeanor cases annually, accounting for 70 percent or more of criminal cases, often overwhelm available resources. The […]