Answering Gideon's Call Outside the Courtroom:Policy Reform Strategies to Protect the Right to Counsel
School of Public Affairs, American University
National Legal Aid and Defender Organization
Washington College of Law, American University
National Council of Chief Defenders
On March 18, 1963, the United States Supreme Court decided Gideon v. Wainwright, which established the right to counsel for those who could not afford to hire an attorney. The Supreme Court stated that counsel is critical to fair process; however, each state was left to determine the structure for providing this Sixth Amendment Constitutional right. For decades, both the American University and NLADA’s Legal Services Division have worked inside state justice systems to improve effectiveness and fairness. Our work on the ground has reinforced the realization that there is much work to be done outside the courtroom to protect the Sixth Amendment, and to ensure public defense providers are partners with prosecutors and others in crafting and implementing justice system policies. It has been a challenge to achieve a balance allocation of available resources. In too many state and county courts the delivery of timely and adequate indigent defense services is ad hoc and severely deficient. It is this situation that the Symposium is designed to address -- to jumpstart recognition of the collaborative leadership role that public defender leaders must play in co-creating justice systems. The Symposium is a gathering of leaders from different sectors who will work collaboratively to identify a policy and law reform agenda that focuses not just on the “indigent defense crisis” but on the “justice system crisis.” Participants will be asked to identify the key strategies that should be incorporated into future policy and law reform efforts to achieve balance and effectiveness for both indigent defense representation and for state justice systems as a whole.
Conference Proceedings for Gideon’s 50th Anniversary Symposium: Answering Gideon’s Call Outside the Courtroom: Collaborative Policy Reform Strategies to Protect the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel and Ensure a Fair and Equitable Justice System, held on Monday, March 18, 2013, American University, Washington, D.C.
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