Friday, June 10, 2011

Gideon Alert: Mississippi takes first step toward unified statewide system

The Mississippi Office of State Public Defender was created earlier this session with the passage of SB 2563 consolidating the existing Office of Indigent Appeals and the Office of Capital Defense Counsel. The new office is tasked with providing “training and services to public defenders practicing in all state, county and municipal courts” and making recommendations for a future unified, statewide trial-level system. On June 9, 2011, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced the appointment of Ms. Leslie Lee as the first State Public Defender.

2:55 PM
Friday, June 10, 2011

Interview with New York's director of indigent legal services

The New York Law Journal sat down with current Director of the Office of Indigent Legal Service, Bill Leahy, to talk about the current state of the right to counsel in New York. Bill formerly headed up the Massachusetts’ Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) and uses the opportunity to compare and contrast public defense services in Massachusetts and New York. Worth the time to read.

2:34 PM
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gideon Alert: Alabama creates statewide indigent defense system

On June 9, 2011, Alabama joined the majority of states in the country that have state-administered right to counsel systems. While Alabama already funds indigent defense at the state level, the legislation (SB 440) creates centralized oversight of right to counsel services, requires the promulgation of standards, and seeks to expand the number of staffed public defender offices. The bill is a compromise reach by a conference committee.  An earlier version of the bill was passed by the Senate (24-3) on May 25 and would have unified the state's divergent county-based right to counsel systems, but only a substitute bill passed in the House. The conference bill passed the Senate unanimously (32-0) and the House voted the measure through on an overwhelmingly bi-partisan basis (97-4-1). Governor Bentley is expected to sign the conference committee version of the bill into law, as he is largely viewed as the leader behind the movement to bring accountability to the delivery of right to counsel services.

9:00 AM
Friday, June 3, 2011

New leader sworn in to run DOJ Access to Justice Initiative

 On June 2, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Mark Childress was sworn in to replace Prof. Lawrence Tribe as senior counselor of DOJ's Access to Justice Initiative. This announcement comes nearly six months after Professor Tribe stepped down from the post due to health reasons. Prof. Tribe said of Childress, "I'm sure he'll roll up his sleeves and make a huge difference to ordinary people." The DOJ press release includes many of Childress' previous accomplishments and positions both in and out of government, which can be found here.

11:47 AM
Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pre-trial detention and a nationwide call for reform

On June 2, 2011, an article by The Crime Report explored the crescendo of opinion and research calling for a fundamental reform to our state courts' money bail system.  According to the loudest critics, the current system "costs 9 billion taxpayer dollars annually, much of which could be saved by using recognized tools to measure the risks that a defendant will not return for required court appearances if released."  

2:15 PM
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Assistant AG Laurie Robinson addresses juvenile justice convention

On May 23, 2011, Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson addressed the annual meeting of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice in Washington DC. In her remarks, Assistant AG Robinson renewed the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs' commitment to focus on juvenile justice issues, in particular with the ongoing work of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

12:21 PM