Pleading the Sixth: With a resolution adopted at its 2014 Annual Meeting, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) together have endorsed the proposed legislation to create a National Center for the Right to Counsel, as introduced in October 2013 by Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21).
“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators urge Congress to enact legislation, such as H.R. 3407, to assist state and local governments to comply with the constitutional right to counsel for indigent criminal defendants.” So concludes Resolution 2: In Support of Establishment of the National Center for the Right to Counsel, jointly proposed by the CCJ/COSCA Criminal Justice Committee and the CCJ/COSCA Access, Fairness and Public Trust Committee, and adopted by the Conference of Chief Justices at its 2014 Annual Meeting in West Virginia.
The Sixth Amendment Center previously detailed HR 3407, introduced in October 2013 by Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21). Pointing with equal weight to the federal government’s failure “to adequately support state and local efforts to uphold the constitutional right to counsel guaranteed for all persons accused of a crime” and to the widely documented fact that “public defense systems across the country lack the funding and resources that are needed to provide adequate representation of indigent defendants,” the CCJ/COSCA resolution endorses the “essential funding and support to state and local public defense systems” that the proposed National Center for the Right to Counsel would provide.
The chief justices of our states’ supreme courts should be applauded. Having formally recognized our nation’s longstanding systemic deficiencies in the delivery of constitutionally protected indigent defense services, the Conference of Chief Justices has now added a strong voice to the growing nation-wide chorus calling for lasting solutions.