Budget Crises Hit Public Defenders Hard

You have the right to counsel. Or do you?


Above is Clarence Gideon, whose pro se petition to the Supreme Court resulted in the 1963 Supreme Court decision in the case of Gideon vs. Wainwright, confirming a constitutional guarantee of representation by counsel.

Recent budget crises across the country have been preventing Public Defenders’ offices from adequately staffing to carry the case load with which they are confronted.  Some Public Defenders are even refusing to take on cases if they don’t meet certain criteria for ‘gravity.’

See the USA Today story here.

2 responses to “Budget Crises Hit Public Defenders Hard

  1. If you have ever sat in court and witnessed the misuse of free legal representation, overuse of this ‘right’ is clearly evident. Anything from DUI, malicious destruction of property to murder is qualified for free counsel.

    There must be limitations depending on severity of the criminal charge and the likelihood of a lenghthy jail sentence. With the mandatory sentence and most who face a judge will receive probation on a first offense and often a second offense for the same charge – why would these minor charges qualify for a free attorney?

  2. This story brings me back to what an attorney told me at one time…..

    How much justice can you afford!?

    I had hired this attorney to defend me in a case where I had not done what I was accused of. The bad part…. I might have been better off with a public defender!

    This story ALSO brings back a thought that I had while dealing with my own personal delima. Attorney’s should be REQUIRED to do 3-4 probono case’s each year to help the public defender’s office’s free up some of their time to manage their case load a little more better than they’re able to now.

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