Criminal Defense is a Constitutional Right: Infographic
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court case: Gideon v. Wainright, a decision which established states' responsibilities to provide a lawyer for defendants who cannot afford one. The U.S. Constitution had first ensured the right of citizens to receive legal representation, but Gideon marked the legal requirement for states to give public defense to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.
Nationally, however, public defenders are struggling to keep up with their caseloads. In 2013 there is too much work, and too little time, for state attorneys to handle. Budget cuts have resulted in furloughs. One Ohio public defender even fired himself.
In Minnesota we are also experiencing a difficult time for court-appointed counsel. John Stuart wrote an editorial for the Star Tribune titled "Access to counsel is at risk" earlier this year to highlight Minnesota's criminal defense crisis. Stuart pointed out that in the state of Minnesota, we have "smart, idealistic, well-trained lawyers and support staff who work long hours," but they are expected to handle a case load that's far too large and far too time consuming.
Every accused person deserves quality legal representation and a fair trial. To learn more, take a look at this infographic illustrating the national and local public defense crisis.
The National Public Defense Crisis: Infographic
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