A lack of effectiveness and financial oversight define Maine’s right to counsel system

Maine state outline map

Pleading the Sixth: Maine is the only state in the country that provides all indigent defense services through private attorneys. There are two principal reasons that other states have moved away from using solely private attorneys. First, it is difficult to

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Oregon’s complex bureaucracy obscures just another fixed fee system

Pleading the Sixth: Oregon stands as a cautionary tale regarding indigent defense reform. Often extolled (including by this author) as a working model that provides effective public defense services through a statewide system of contracts, a new comprehensive evaluation by

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Indiana Task Force on Public Defense urges comprehensive reform

Pleading the Sixth: In October 2016, the 6AC released its evaluation of trial level right to counsel services in Indiana, detailing how and why the Indiana public defense system results in the actual and constructive denial of counsel to the indigent

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Withholding felony representation for months at a time in Mississippi

Pleading the Sixth: Felony defendants throughout Mississippi are arrested and then routinely wait from typically two months to up to a year before a lawyer begins working on their behalf. When a felony lawyer is finally appointed, the attorney is too

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Tennessee Supreme Court backs major right to counsel reforms

Pleading the Sixth: The Tennessee Supreme Court released a press statement announcing its unanimous support for comprehensive indigent defense reforms, including the creation of a statewide indigent defense commission and a state appellate defender office, and the first increase in

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Flaws in West Virginia indigent defense system result in non-lawyer representing indigent defendants

Pleading the Sixth: In Logan County, West Virginia, a recent law school graduate who never passed the bar exam was allowed to represent the indigent accused in misdemeanor court. This is an obvious violation of the Sixth Amendment right to

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