Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Crime Report studies the impact of holistic representation on defender clients

On March 8, the Crime Report ran a well-rounded article on holistic representation: “Can the ‘Holistic Approach’ Solve The Crisis in Public Defense?”  We don’t have much to add, other than to suggest the article is worth checking out.

4:59 PM
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

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4:41 PM
Friday, March 4, 2011

Gideon Alert: NJ Gov’s dismissal of state public defender sparks debate over independence

On March 3, the Newark Star-Ledger published an editorial on the New Jersey governor’s recent decision to remove the current chief public defender, Yvonne Smith Segars, and nominate a new candidate for the state senate’s approval.  New Jersey has a statewide, state-funded indigent defense system that provides direct services primarily through regional staffed public defender offices.  The state’s chief public defender, who oversees all right to counsel services in the state, is appointed by the governor with approval of the senate.

2:00 PM
Monday, February 28, 2011

Gideon Alert: Without independence, New Mexico PD system in limbo after governor dismisses chief

On February 16, 2011, newly elected New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez removed the state’s Chief Public Defender Hugh Dangler from his post, as reported in the Santa Fe Reporter.  New Mexico has a statewide, state-funded indigent defense system that provides services through a combination of staffed public defender offices and contract attorneys. 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. The dismissal in the middle of a legislative session without a replacement, however, “brings questions for the department's ability to advocate for itself.”

1:00 AM
Friday, February 25, 2011

TX Chief Justice speaks out on indigent defense and juvenile justice issues

On February 23, 2011, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson gave his state of the judiciary before the 82nd state legislature.  Texas has two high courts – the Supreme Court for civil and juvenile matters, and the Court of Criminal Appeals for criminal matters.  Though Justice Jefferson heads the civil high court, he nonetheless felt compelled to speak about indigent defense needs in the state.  Bemoaning the fact that Texas ranks “among the lowest of the 50 states” in right to counsel per capita expenditures, he urged the legislature not to go forward with projected cuts to the indigent defense budget.  The right to counsel is primarily a county responsibility in Texas, with the state making limited contributions through the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense, which provides state funding, requires local planning for indigent defense and reporting of expenditures, and provides an array of resources for counties to improve these services.  A cut to their budget “would drain the system of resources we need to assure indigent criminal defendants get competent lawyers who make the system fair.”

4:48 PM
Friday, February 18, 2011

Nevada Supreme Court orders uniform public defense case counting definitions

On February 15, 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court adopted a court order requiring all Nevada counties to use a uniform definition of a “case” in reporting right to counsel caseload data.  The definition adopted in Nevada for the time being counts as a single case “a single defendant in a single charging document.”  The Order expressly notes that this measure “will under report caseload at times when one defendant is charged with separate crimes from separate incidents that may necessitate indigent defense counsel to treat the appointment as multiple cases.”   The court agreed with the definition supported by the Conference of State Court Administrators and the National Center for State Courts, first established in their joint 1989 publication State Court Model Statistical Dictionary. That definition instructs administrators to “[c]ount each defendant and all charges involved in a single incident as a single case.”  The Court adopted the modified definition of a case because of the current state of case-tracking technology available throughout the state.  If Nevada develops the case-tracking capacity to “accurately count cases in line with the national model,” the Court advises that they intend to revisit the newly adopted definition.

1:20 PM