ABA Journal

Indigent Defense

25 ABA Journal Indigent Defense articles.

In ‘watershed moment,’ report recommends new guidelines for public defender caseloads

Many public defenders are “overloaded” with work, even when caseloads are evaluated under outdated guidelines drafted in 1973 that don't reflect modern-day realities, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Family First: A group of Washington lawyers works to keep infants with their mothers

While family separations have long been the norm when treating babies born dependent on substances, recent research suggests allowing a mother to stay with and care for her infant significantly improves their health outcomes.

Federal judge orders release of county’s unrepresented defendants, says problem is ‘complete tragedy’

A federal judge in Eugene, Oregon, has ruled that defendants held without lawyers for 10 days in Washington County, Oregon’s jail must be released from custody.

High-earning, court-appointed lawyer failed to provide ‘even a modicum of representation,’ suit alleges

When a Houston man was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in July 2018, he was “a happily married 65-year-old man.” By the time that his case was dismissed in February 2022, he had lost his home, his truck and his wife.

ABA House OKs updated 10 principles for public defense; ‘we cannot allow a two-tier system of justice’

The House of Delegates approved a measure adopting a new iteration of the ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System at the ABA Annual Meeting in Denver on Monday.

ABA asks Supreme Court to review Alabama case involving fixed bail amounts

ABA has a long history of advocating for indigent defense and public defenders

For more than a century, the ABA has advocated on issues related to indigent defense, primarily through its Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense. In fact, SCLAID (when it was operating as the Standing Committee on Legal Aid Work) stated in its 1937 annual report: “We believe that every man accused of serious crime is absolutely entitled to counsel and that, if too poor to employ one, society must furnish him that lawyer.”

Court backlogs persist in this state because of shortage of attorneys; ‘the wheels of justice depend on lawyers’

Georgia courts are having trouble addressing case backlogs because the state has a shortage of lawyers, including prosecutors and public defenders, the state’s chief justice said this week.

Lawyer accused of relying on staffer to take CLE classes gets sanction reprieve if he accepts indigent cases

A solo practitioner in Maine may find it difficult to comply with the terms of an ethics sanction imposed for relying on his assistant to take his continuing legal education classes.

Utah’s reforms offer model for serving low-income and indigent people, report suggests

The Utah model of reform allowing nonlawyers to offer legal services could be “critical” to serving people who can’t afford them, according to a Stanford Law School study published Tuesday.

Massachusetts high court tells defense counsel when to stay quiet about confidential information

Massachusetts’ highest appellate court has instructed lawyers about when to stay quiet about evidence that could incriminate their clients.

Maine will hire its first public defenders to aid struggling indigent defense system

Maine, the last state without public defenders, will soon deploy five of them after Democratic Gov. Janet T. Mills signed a bill earlier this month to create a rural public defenders unit.

Oregon’s overburdened public defender system is ‘buckling before our eyes’

The public defender system in Oregon is so overburdened that several hundred defendants don’t have legal representation at any given time.

Panel attorneys who represent children, indigent adults in New York courts flee low pay

Panel attorneys who represent children and indigent adults in New York family and criminal courts haven’t had a fee hike in almost two decades.

SCOTUS should not restrict counsel’s investigations in death penalty cases, ABA says

In an amicus brief filed Monday, the ABA urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reaffirm that counsel representing habeas petitioners should be able to investigate new evidence without first proving that the evidence will provide relief to their clients.

Read more ...