New York Case Faults Public Defender Programs

By , March 16, 2010 3:14 pm
United States criminal justice system flowchart.
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A class-action suit to be argued next week in New York’s highest court has become a test of a national strategy by civil liberties groups to challenge what they say are failed public defender programs in many states.

Because an estimated 80 percent of felony defendants in large states are too poor to hire their own lawyers, and because the case is being watched around the nation, the case has the potential to alter the shape of the criminal justice system.

Filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the lawsuit is a broad challenge to a patchwork system that has been described by decades of studies and commissions as dysfunctional, underfinanced and “in crisis,” with often poorly trained and poorly supervised lawyers handling huge caseloads. It says indigent clients have been failed by their appointed lawyers all around the state.

via New York Case Faults Public Defender Programs – NYTimes.com.

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