Thursday, March 24, 2011

High Court hears arguments on right to counsel in civil contempt proceedings with possible jail time

On March 23, 2011, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Turner v. Rogers – a case squarely addressing whether an indigent person can be jailed on civil contempt without being given a lawyer to represent him.  Michael Turner served a year in prison when he was held in contempt by a South Carolina court for failing to timely pay child support, but he had to represent himself in court and had no lawyer to represent him.

12:23 PM
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trial-level right to counsel systems and the ethical obligations of indigent defense attorneys

"Ethical Obligations of Indigent Defense Attorneys to Their Clients" provides a basic introduction to the provision of indigent defense services in courts throughout the country and the ethical obligations of the attorney who provide these services.

4:52 PM
Thursday, March 10, 2011

AL Chief Justice echoes call for criminal justice reform

On March 8, Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb delivered the annual State of the Judiciary address, in which she urged the legislature to end the state's overreliance on incarceration of non-violent offenders. "[W]e must lock up violent and serious offenders for lengthy sentences so they cannot continue to harm innocent people.  However, where nonviolent offenders are concerned, there is an alternative to the costly cycle of crime, incarceration, and reoffending.  We need to be certain we are locking up those of whom we are afraid – not just those with whom we are mad."

5:52 PM
Thursday, March 10, 2011

AG Holder addresses juvenile representation before National Association of Counties convention

On March 7, US Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the National Association of Counties at its legislative conference in Washington DC, focusing his remarks on the failure of state and local juvenile justice policies to address the underlying causes of delinquent behavior by children.  Often, the methods our justice systems maintain to punish youthful offenders – especially those accused of lesser offenses – result in increasingly poor behavior.  As a result, he argues, our communities are less safe, not more.

5:02 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Watch the BJA Webinar on the Right to Counsel

For those who missed the March 8 webinar, "The Right to Counsel: Standards & Solutions in a Downturned Economy," fret not ... We have posted the webinar onto our website, and you can watch it in its entirety here.  The webinar was presented by NLADA's research director David Carroll, on behalf of the USDOJ/BJA's National Training and Technical Assistance Center.

6:03 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Independence in New Mexico revisited

In a March 5th editorial, the Albuquerque Journal (subscription required) called for the New Mexico public defender system to be overseen by an independent commission.  New Mexico has a statewide, state-funded indigent defense system that provides services through a combination of staffed public defender offices and contract attorneys.  As we wrote in our February 28 Gideon Alert on the matter: “The dismissal of the public defender is expected with the election of a new governor because New Mexico’s chief public defender is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor, rather than through a non-partisan public defense commission as required by national standards including ABA Principle 1.”

11:26 AM